by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO– Here in the country, people are more likely to cut a fresh tree to decorate for Christmas. And even though I support using a renewable resource like a live tree rather than a fake one that will end up in a landfill for the next million years, there are some drawbacks to obtaining your tree in the wilds of Huerfano.
First of all you have to remember to take a saw, and of course we didn’t do that. Hey, we’re both over 50 – I think we just forgot for a moment where we were going. Anyway, we borrowed a saw from a guy with a dog. Don’t feel bad – the tree needed to be thinned out anyway, and I told it we were sorry, because trees have feelings too. We weren’t picky, because you can’t expect perfection in the forest. We chose one with no hibernating squirrels and not totally bare on one side. After it was cut, we pulled our prize into a clearing so we could admire it as it lay there.
Now, it’s funny how a dog can have 5,000 trees within a 100-foot radius, but will still take particular interest in a newly cut tree. “Hey! This one isn’t marked yet!” In less than a nanosecond, the dog appeared out of nowhere, lifted its leg and urinated on our tree. EEWWWWW! When we dragged it through the snow to the truck, we hoped it would be cleansed, because we knew that it would now be of particular interest to our own dogs when we got home. And we did eventually get it home – that is, after changing the flat tire on the truck, which resulted from a nail that was no doubt strategically placed by the tree spirits only a few days before.
Now, fresh-cut trees need lots of water when they are first set up in the home. I found a recipe online for a concoction that you add to the water to keep the tree fresh. It’s a mixture of corn syrup, bleach and vinegar. You might think that such a foul brew would be of no interest to any living thing besides a tree, however before I could even put a cover over the filled base, our cat found it absolutely irresistible. After puking four times and a bout of explosive diarrhea, I don’t think it will ever drink anything from a tree base again.
Maybe it was the unseasonably warm weather, or the sunshine streaming through the windows, or the dog urine – whatever the reason, our tree started to lose needles the same day we decorated it. If we breathed on it, if someone sneezed from ten feet away, if an adobe bug crawled on it, the needles would sprinkle to the ground. We had little piles of them all around the tree, and sweeping up pine needles is as productive as trying to shove a cow into your vacuum cleaner.
It’s almost time to take down the tree, and I am dreading it. City people enclose used trees in special plastic tree bags, which basically defeats the biodegradable feature of a tree. Along lakes, people just throw them into the water as hiding places for the fish. Some people use their trees around the farm for rabbit cover. Our tree will become an hour’s worth of firewood in the fall. And next December, I guess we’ll do it all again – just because we can.