A "Do It Yourself" Christmas Tree

(This is the original story from 2001. The "outtakes" for 2002 follow.)

It was with relief that I slid off the back of the snowmobile. It had been about a ten-minute ride up the snow-covered hill, with me, the old geezer, hanging on for dear life. As I listened to the roar of the departing snowmobile, I gazed with awe at the snow-covered valleys surrounding me. Then I remembered that I was here to cut my own Christmas tree. I had moved from Southern California to Reno a year earlier and was now into one of the rituals of Christmas. We had several families involved in this adventure, and I was the scout.

I saw a group of outstanding prospects and took a step toward them. To my shock, my step went down into the snow, leaving me supported by my trailing thigh. This was not good! Who knows how deep the snow was? I rolled on my side and pulled my leg out of the snow. Now what? I knew the snowmobile would return, but this was embarrassing. I decided to crawl on my hands and knees over to a nearby group of trees, hoping that the branches had kept the snow depth underneath within reason. It was a good guess. I was able to stand up. Whew!

Now all I had to do was to figure out how to get to the group of trees I had spotted. About then, the snowmobile showed up with Cheryl. Great, another Southern California neophyte.

"Have you found us a tree yet?" This was her kind of fun. Except she didn't like cold and wet. I could hardly wait for her to step into some deep snow.

"Well," I answered, "there is a group of trees over there that look pretty nice. But we have to get across that patch of snow."

"What's the big deal?" she said, as she started out in the direction of my find.

It took about five steps and she went in. The snow had a crust under the trees that became thinner as you walked away.

"Hey, get me out of here." She was a true city girl. And now she was not a happy camper. She had snow in her boots, and snow in her gloves.

I explained that she had to crawl back. And I explained that we had to stay under the trees.

"Whose brilliant idea was this anyway?" she said as she crawled back.

"Come on. It will start getting dark in a couple of hours."

We made it over to the trees about the time the snowmobile returned with the third tree-cutter. Dave had informed us that he had been designated to give the grandkids a ride while we cut some trees. He would be back to pull the trees down the slope with the snowmobile. Great! The grandparents from Southern California get to cut the trees down while the kids and grandkids played!

There were rules for tree-cutters. The rules came with the permit we bought down the mountain. We followed the rules and cut three beautiful trees. Naturally they all fell into very deep snow!

"Why do you have them fall into the deep snow?" was Cheryl's question. And here I thought I did well just to keep the saw blade from being jammed in the cut.

So we worked at getting the trees to a spot accessible to the snowmobile. This was not an easy task. We had to maneuver in the deep snow. And I noticed the complaints getting louder; something about wet snow in her boots and freezing wet hands, gloves or not. We managed to drag the first tree into the path we had walked over on. The snowmobile would certainly be able to get to our starting point. But, we still had the other two trees, and they were bigger, probably eighteen to twenty feet high. And they were heavier. What a hassle! Crawling and falling and laughing, we got it done.

The snowmobile reappeared about the time we were finished. Then, off went the snowmobile with one cutter and one tree. This repeated until we were all down the hill. The trees were soon tied on the trailer with the snowmobile and we headed home.

What more could there be to this story? Well, if you think about the two Southern California neophytes with a first-ever "tall" Christmas tree, wonder about how they would put it up. The ceiling was tall enough. But how do you stand up a twenty-foot tall tree? This little jewel was heavy! And we only had a six-foot stepladder. First, we had to buy a new stand; one that had a wide opening at the base, and wide legs to support this monster. With our new stand attached, I had the presence of mind to put an ornament on the top, and wrap a couple of strands of lights on the top branches. As we made our herculean effort and tipped the tree up, the ornament on the top fell off. No matter, now we had to hang the lights and ornaments. But how do you hang ornaments on a twenty-foot tree with a six-foot ladder? Answer: you stand on the top; you know, where it says "Do not stand or sit." I tediously hung the ornaments with a contrived six-foot mop handle with a wire hook taped to the end.

But there's more; it was about two in the morning when we heard the crash. Yes, the tree fell over. Cheryl cried. I looked at that tree on the floor, surrounded by broken ornaments, and thought of all the work we had done. So what do you do? We went to work and got the tree back up, and this time I wired it to the wall. Oh, yes, the ornament on the top fell off on the way up again!

Next year, we will have boots with tight tops.

(Now you can see what went on in 2002. We remembered our camera!)

Dave warms up the chain saw while Cheryl watches.

Tailgate first - Trees later
Dave's wife, Aimee, sets up the tailgate first - Trees later

Who cares about trees when there is snow, and the kids have sleds and snowboards?

Group sliding
The kids find a hill and go at it.

The first of the victims shows up at the camp.

Cheryl warms up
Cheryl's tree is down, and she warms up by Dave's propane-fed heater.





Grand daughter, Chanelle, is not worried about finding a tree. Further, she doesn't seem worried about "hitting" a tree!

The victors begin to show up at camp.

A happy pair




Who cares about trees. This pair share a ride!

Break time
Cousins, Aimee and Abby, take time to relax with a little brew!

Tree loading time
The end of the day and time to load the up the trees on the snowmobile trailer.

Barry & Cheryl's tree

Tree without flash Tree with flash

These pictures are made up from two photos, hence the mismatch in the window frame.

E-mail: Barry & Cheryl