In the sand at Boston Harbor Marina
On a sunny day in July, 2016
(I don't have the photo album at hand, so no pictures of the rest of us! Maybe later.)
Good Thing #1. It's not really a Christmas post already, although if it were, it wouldn't be the first I've seen this season. This is a little story that wraps itself around me like a homemade afghan on a chilly fall evening. Last year we returned to Don Tapio's Christmas Valley Tree Farm to cut our own tree again. Katy really, really likes real trees for Christmas and I understand her. I used to feel the same way.
As usual, we spent a few minutes catching up with our tree farmer, listening to news about his 90+ year-old mother, and how life was treating them after a series of very misfortunate events. (I might share some more about that at a more appropriate time. It's not such a warm story.)
Then we headed out to find that little made-just-for-us Christmas tree we knew would be waiting for us. I had visions of sweet symmetry, with enough space between the branches to show off some red and golden glass ornaments. I don't know what Katy was looking for. We know we have our own ideas and we know that however different they may seem, we always agree on just the right tree when we see it. Usually, it takes a bit of discussion and circling the tree and pulling up a bottom branch or two and asking each other, "Whadd'ya think?"
We poked around, traipsed around, chased Desmond around and found a few "almosts," trees that other years would have made the grade, but something just kept spurring us on, in a subtle, nudging way.
And then...there it was like a beacon one second and then just a tree the next second, but never only just a tree for very long. The three of us stopped mutely at the same moment and decided this was our tree. It had drawn us in. There was a whole forest left that we hadn't even seen yet, but why would you keep running after the ball if you've already caught it? We didn't even need to discuss it. We just really liked it.
Katy cut it down, with oh-so-much help from Desmond and direction from me, and we started back up the path with it. Don looked up and rather than wait for us to come to the bailing machine as in years past, he hurried down the gravel to meet us. He was exuberant and told us we had artistic hearts for choosing that tree...the kind of artistic hearts that reached out, artistically, to other things about life, as well.
He had only a handful of that particular tree on his farm, and most people don't choose it, but to him, it's the prettiest tree he grows! (And just so you know, I've already told this story to someone who said, "I'll bet he says that to everyone," so no need to go there. I just know it ain't so. There was no need to flatter us and I might have thought he was just saying stuff to make us feel good, if it weren't for the fact that I knew that tree was all he said it was.)
It was a corkbark fir, with silver-white blue and green needles that picked up and played with the lights we put on it later. You can tell from the picture that it is indeed a lovely tree, but I know you can't really see what made it all that special, unless you can see into our four hearts just by looking at the pictures.
Don Tapio, Christmas Tree Farmer