Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A "real" Christmas tree

For several years we have talked about getting a permit from the Forest Service and going up in the mountains to cut our Christmas tree. For one reason or another, it just never seemed to work out. This year we talked about it again. "Wouldn't that be a fun memory? We could take the 4Runner and go up in the snow level and tramp around looking for just the right tree..." We wanted to wait till just a week or two before Christmas so the tree wouldn't dry out too much before time to take it down.

As is usual this time of year, one thing and another came up and all of a sudden our weekends were full. It looked like our tree-cutting excursion wouldn't work out this year either. But DH had an idea. This past weekend we had a trip to Boise to deliver a print job. What if we could get a permit down there and cut our tree on the way home Saturday? That sounded like a reasonable idea to me, so I proceeded to try to find out what would be involved in getting the proper permit.

I got the phone book... turned to the blue government listings pages... under Forest Service there was only a website, no phone number! I was pretty sure the website wouldn't have the information I needed, besides I didn't have convenient access to the internet. So I called a "general information" number for the government and asked for a phone number for the National Forest Service in Idaho. Well, they didn't have a number for Idaho. They could give me a number for Ogden, Utah! Fine, what's the number for Ogden, Utah? I called Ogden, Utah and asked if they had a phone number for the National Forest Service in Idaho. (Keeping in mind that while Idaho is 75% National Forest, we do have such modern conveniences as telephones out here in the Wild West!) Ogden, Utah did have a phone number for Boise so I called them. Yes, Christmas tree permits were $10 but they were only good in the Boise National Forest, not the entire state. We could come by their office to buy our permit and they would give us a map of the cutting area in the Forest. Great!

We stopped by the office and looked at the map and discovered that the cutting area wasn't exactly along our route home. However, Payette National Forest would be. Could we get a permit for that Forest? We couldn't there, but they told us where to go to get a permit on our way home.

When we got to Payette National Forest on Saturday it was raining. A soft gentle rain, but cold and wet! Not only that, there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. Okay, we've come this far... we are bound and determined to get our tree! We purchased our permit... only $5 in Payette National Forest... and started out. We drove down several roads looking for likely areas with appropriate sized trees at least 300 feet from the road (per the Forest Service rules). With the rain and the snow we weren't so anxious to tramp around in the Forest as we thought we would be! Finally we found a stretch of road that seemed likely. We all clambered out and hiked down the road a piece, pointing out prospective trees. Darlin' DH tramped out in snow, nearly up to his waist in places, checking out each tree that we girls were so helpfully pointing out from the relative dryness of the road. He wasn't too impressed with any of our selections once he got close enough to them to see all the flaws. However, pickin's were kinda slim in that part of the Forest, so we finally settled on one that "would do". DH quickly sawed it down and dragged it back to the trailer, and we were on our way again. I was resigned to having a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree and camaflaging the whole thing with lots of lights and ornaments.

As DH was unloading it at home that night I could tell he was rather disgusted with it! I asked him if he was disappointed. He said, "Oh, no! Of course not! It only has one flat side!" I told him that was better than three flat sides!

Monday night we brought it in the house to set it up. It was just the right size with the tip touching the ceiling and just took a little trimming of a couple of the branches to be about the right size around. We put the flat side against the wall so it didn't show too much. Lovely! This was going to work out just fine... until... we started trying to decorate the thing! The branches were very slender and sloping ever so gently down, so they wouldn't support very much weight. So much for the idea of lots of lights and ornaments! We gingerly draped two strings of lights among the branches as best we could. DD had made a nice red and green paper chain that helped matters immensely. It was light-weight, but bulky to help fill in some of the gaps. And then I told the girls to choose just the lightest ornaments which we judiciously placed to finish filling it out. Forget an angel on top! But, oh what a memory we made! And DH allowed that it actually ended up looking better than he thought it might.

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