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.