Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deck the Boughs

High: 32° F
Low: 11° F
Conditions: Snow showers throughout the day

We’re big fans of holiday cheer around here, especially during these, the darkest days of the year. December in Maine means that the sun rises a little after 7:00 a.m. and sets before 4:00 p.m. That’s a lot of darkness. So much so, in fact, it’s also the one time of year I can count on not being awakened by an eager caninaturalist before 6:00 a.m. (thank goodness for small favors).

But the darkness can also get a little taxing. That’s one reason we really love our annual outing to pick out the household Christmas tree.

We humans love the ancient ideas that an evergreen tree might have the ability both to woo the sun back our way and, in the meantime, to weather whatever winter has up her sleeve. Meanwhile, the resident cats get to tap into their primordial, tree-dwelling DNA, (which gives Ari something to tattle about). Along the way, she also gets a great walk, lots of attention from kids bored with their own tree search, and some mighty impressive treats, too. And then there are those incredibly alluring horses to bark at. . .

Once we've told them a thing or two, it's time to get down to brass tacks. In our family, selecting the perfect tree is a delicate dance of compromise.

Ari, for instance, soon latched on (literally) to this little specimen:

So much so, in fact, that she not only refused to leave, but she had strong words for anyone who suggested we move on.

We considered harvesting the tree as a nod to Charlie Brown's Christmas choice, but couldn't quite bring ourselves to do so.

In the end, human preference trumped dog, and we chose this fabulous tree for our new housemate:

And then remembered AFTER we had cut it down to see if it would fit in our house.

This is a crucial step, particularly for two people with little spatial appreciation. Decking the halls in our house has turned tense more than once--particularly after we discover, while standing in our dining room, that the tree we just lugged inside will never, ever, fit there. Happily, this year we got it right.

Piper Mountain is a great place to get a tree. There are acres of evergreen forest to walk, friendly workers turning trees into something out of Dr. Seuss and this--my one donut of the year. Which also, coincidentally, is Ari's one bite of donut as well. (a reward not only for relinquishing her tiny tree, but for guarding our big one while we went to pay).

Back home, we used a dichotomous key to confirm that we had, in fact, purchased a balsam fir.

I was hopeful that this research would interest the canine naturalist--it is biological study after all--but she had moved on to new projects, like guarding the house from an assault by chickadees and red squirrels.

Meanwhile, we humans set to work rediscovering the decorations that had been tucked away in our basement for the past year. Ari's pesky housemate, Mouse, offered to "help."
That meant it took us about five times longer to finish the decorating than it should have, but Mouse tells me that's part of holiday tradition, too. Ari doesn't care one way or the other: she's just worried those damn squirrels are going to figure out a way to steal this tree--or, even worse, our donuts.


Anonymous said...

The tree looks perfect... great choice! I remember the days of Grant's silviculture labs at piper mountain tree farm it is a beautiful place, oh the memories! Merry Christmas!
Love, Amanda G.

Marigold said...

I wish we had that tree in our barn. I wish we had that donut in our barn. Oy. The goatmother says the horses pulling the wagon with the tree is absolutely awesome. I'm just glad they weren't making any goats do it.

frugalmom said...

That is a great tree. Perfect. And your day looks like it was, too. Right down to the yummy donuts. And so good of Ari to watch things for you....I bet she loved that little donut snack.

I dunno, tho...she totally could have worked out that little bitty tree...use a leash as some garland, hang some dog biscuits on there.....

Eve said...

Wonderful. The decorated tree is a beauty! Ari looks like she is enjoying herself and Mouse...just has that look..."where did that thingy go???".....

Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrrrr Ari
that tree looks great Harrrrr.guard it well Harrrr.
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

with love, Madison said...

Your tree is beautiful and so perfectly appropriate to a log cabin. The horses are magnificent. We are just unpacking our very sterile little pencil tree, all fake and prelit, and perching it on the sidetable in the living room. Christmas in South Florida is always a bit of a seasonal stretch ...

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

That was one of my mom's favourite choices when she had a house and did the tree thingie -

She would get a live one and dekhorate it on the dekhk and keep it outside so as to improve its chances for transplant -

Hmmmmm - I see woo already have the bubblewrap ready fur my khytty gifts - soooo furry thoughtful!


Tracey and Huffle said...

Good job Mouse! And that is a very nice tree. Keep up the good work Ari!

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

Lorenza said...

Sure is nice that you took your time to find the perfect tree! It is beautiful!
Kisses and hugs

China said...

It's nice to see that SOMEone likes the holidays around here! Mom loves decorating, but Daddy doesn't like it much and grumbles that she does it too early. He wants to wait for Christmas Eve! All their friends don't celebrate Christmas at all so Mom sometimes feels lonely about it.

I don't think I'll let Zoe read this post. So far, all she does to the tree is look at it.

The Army of Four said...

That's beautiful! Mom said she can almost smell the pine! I can almost smell the DOUGHNUTS!!! Mmmmm!
Mouse looks very helpful. I like helping like that, too!
Play bows,

Dawn said...

Love the name of the mountain! Piper is a good place. It looks like you guys had a great time decorating - I'm quite pleased with my 18 inch table top balsam fur and five snowmen decorations. Simple and as festive as it gets here. Hope that's ok with you guys when you come here. :)

YD said...

What a beautiful tree! I see that you decorated your tree down to the very bottom branches. I couldn't do it with mine. The girls tails almost always somehow get tangled with the ornament hooks and end up pulling down some ornaments. So our tree is usually kinda bare in the bottom.

Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

Your new tree looks lovely. I bet Ari liked that one for a good chew toy!


The Daily Echo said...

That was a wonderful adventure. I never knew they grew donuts on tree farms!

Kodak the Eskie said...

Talk about a fun day! Looks like you guys had a great outing. The final tree looks beautiful. However, I'm more impressed with those donuts!!! Yum!

Hugs, Kodak

Kess And Her Mama said...

What a lovely day. We'll never get a chance to experience Christmas tree hunting (except in the mall...). Ari's definitely got her priorities right...Chasing squirrel is the most important job!

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Well, of course Ari is worried about those donuts. It's been a whole year since the last bite! Protect them at all costs, Ari! You might get a second bite this year.

Looks like you had lots of fun picking a tree and decorating it. And if Mouse lives there, Mouse should have some say in decorating. That's our furry, four-footed opinion.

umekotyan said...

Good evening Ari.
Real Christmas soon.
A wonderful lease meets it.
I want also to ride on a carriage.
It is a princess who toward the castle.
Of course, the doughnut becomes a habit.
The decoration of the tree is wonderful.
Please spend a wonderful weekend without forgetting the doughnut with the
preparation at Christmas. :D

from loved ume tyan

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day. Outside checking out tree's. It looks like your humans did get the best on in the forest!!
Did you get a ride with those horses? Perhaps you got to herd them?
Now 10 pounds of cat food is quite a bit. Tell mom you had to eat a bit to make it a bit lighter...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Southbay Girl said...

Kathryn and Ari, What a beautiful tree!!!

I hope all is well in maine with the horrible weather!!! Mom and I are thinking of all of you!! Stay warm!!!

Velcro and Mom Penny

jo(e) said...

I'm smiling at the idea of you using a dichotomous key to identify the tree ....

sugarcreekstuff said...

I love the doggie wreath and the tree.
Little Mouse has those druggy tree climbing eyes, watch out!

JB's Big World said...

That is a great tree and what fun to pick it out. Personally I like the little tree that Ari picked too....it is just the right size for me!

Amici said...

Your tree looks beautiful! We love the place you got your tree too. We thought we were special for having hayrides but you get a horse drawn carriage ride and you can bring Ari to the tree place (ours doesn't allow dogs).

Lovely pics overall!