Everywhere I go I find a pal
Peter Weinschenk, Editor, The Record-Review
I drove 100 miles last week to bring home a Christmas tree from the Chequamegon National Forest northwest of Medford.
I packed up my bow saw, tape measure, and garden clippers. I brought along some hot coffee and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I also brought along my favorite Christmas compact disc, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
I drove north.
It took miles and miles before I could get into the holiday spirit.
I worried about the presidential election, the unending court challenges and suggestions that President Trump should suspend the constitution and declare martial law. I had to drive 10 miles before I let go of all that.
But then I worried about the coronavirus, all of the nearly full hospitals across the country and the months and months it will take to get people vaccinated, including many who won’t want to get vaccinated. That worry took 11 miles.
And then I was gloomy about the economy, chronic unemployment and people who may get ejected from their rental property once the eviction moratorium lapses. It took an additional 13 miles to get past these concerns.
Slowly, mostly as I drove into the forest, I started to feel a little holiday fizz. I started to have fun. I put my USDA tree hunting permit on my dashboard.
I found an old tree hunting ground, and, enjoying pleasant warm weather without a flake of snow on the ground, trundled along a deer hunter’s trail, scouting for a nice looking tree.
The woods were silent, utterly silent. There was no wind, no traffic sounds. I stood in one place and just absorbed the perfect silence, perfect stillness. It was refreshing.
With a bound in my step, I spied a beautiful balsam half-way up a steep hill. I scrambled up the hill, grabbing onto tree branches to steady myself. The tree had good growth on all sides. It was symmetrical. It said Christmas to me.
Down it came. My bow saw sliced through the tree and it fell with a “shhhhh” atop bushes and bramble. A small pile of sawdust lay on one side of the stump. I ushered the tree down the hill and, dragging it on the ground, yanked it all the way to the waiting trailer behind my station wagon.
I took in as much nature as I could. I noticed the glint of afternoon light as it splayed across a nearby meadow. I appreciated the crack of a stick underfoot on the trail. I marveled at a big round fungus on a dead tree. I smiled as I heard the knockknock- knock of a woodpecker off in the distance. I waved hello to a squirrel who zipped up the backside of a tree.
With the tree loaded up, I began the longdrive back home. I put “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in the CD player. I heard a jazz version of “O Tannenbaum.” It was beautiful, very touching.
I saw my freshly cut pine tree flex and sway in my trailer. I smiled. Let Christmas begin, I said.
Contact Peter Weinschenk at pweinschenk@ tpprinting.com