If I could frame this post with a border resembling a pixelated holly garland, I totally would. It’s CHRISTMAS SEASON!
But first, it was Thanksgiving season. Since I work in the financial industry, I had to return to the office on Friday because the market was open. This prevented Matt and me from going down to Indian Creek, Utah for some long-weekend climbing with a few of our friends. Without any plans, I suddenly realized that, in order for me to feel like it’s actually Thanksgiving, there has to be lots of yummy food. That’s the best part of the holiday, or any holiday, really.
I also made a pie!
We had one of Matt’s fellow grad students over since his family is in Bangladesh, and he didn’t really know what Thanksgiving was. And no, I did not make a turkey! A roasted chicken was a better choice for us three.
Anyway, back to CHRISTMAS. Last weekend Matt and I went skiing/snowboarding and climbing, so we didn’t have a chance to pick up a Christmas tree. Here in Wyoming, most families get a $10 permit from the US Forest Service to cut down their own tree on federal land. There are several different varieties of pines and firs in the nearby mountain forests.
As you can see above, the roads weren’t in great condition up in the mountains. We got about 7 inches of snow in town this week, and the higher elevations got more. Despite Matt’s trying to concentrate on driving, I made him listen to my Christmas playlist the whole way there.
The Forest Service limits you to a tree no taller than 20 feet, with a diameter no larger than 6 inches. You also have to be at least 500 feet from any road and 200 feet from any trail when you cut down the tree, so there was a little bit of deep-snow-bushwhacking/adventuring on our part.
That’s when we stumbled upon this beauty:
Though she was covered in snow, we noted her nice shape and not-too-tall size. Matt took the newly-purchased saw out of his backpack and got to work. We were almost knee-deep in snow in places, and it was hard to tell if your next step would lead to solid ground or slippery fallen tree trunk.
I sawed through the second half of the little tree trunk and Matt hefted the tree over his shoulder. We followed our tracks in the snow back to the car.
It was amazing to us how quiet things were up on the snowy mountain. Without any wind, and with what I presume to be many creatures in hibernation, there was a peaceful stillness. Matt remarked it would be nice to just take a hike through the area one day. Most people seem to do so with cross-country skis.
The weather was almost perfect: slightly overcast, ~10 degrees, the aforementioned lack of wind.
We then made our way back through Centennial, a charming Wyoming mountain town with a population of 270. There are a few little stores and restaurants in town, and we stopped at the Beartree Tavern for some warm soup, chili, and garlic bread smeared with pesto.
Matt kindly pulled over for me on the way home so I could take some photos of this gorgeous frozen river scene. The ghostly orb in the upper right corner is the sun behind fog and cloud cover.
Finishing off the remaining hot chocolate I’d brought with me, we pulled into the driveway and began setting up our new Christmas tree! Somehow we managed to saw just the right amounts off both the top and bottom of the tree, such that it fit perfectly from floor to ceiling.
Though our tree doesn’t have the requisite fullness of the typical suburban grocery store parking lot tree, I think it’s pretty darn cute. I wonder how many years it took for our tree to grow to this size, how many winters it’s seen.
My favorite feature of the good old Tannenbaum, other than its softly lit night beauty, has to be its scent. It is, after all, the strongest sense linked to memory. Hand me a mug of hot cocoa (maybe with a splash of Goldschlaeger in it) and sit me in front of a toasty fireplace by a fresh Douglas fir, and that is Christmas past to me.