Monday, December 16, 2013

Stalking the Wild Christmas Tree One Year Later

There’s nothing like living in a place long enough to get to know the area. Last year our Great Christmas Tree Hunt was the subject of endless joking and mirth. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing or where we were going and I suppose the folks at the local constabulary who gave us “directions” for where to find a good tree had a laugh, too. (You can't get there from here. uh ya.")
This year we had already done our homework by scouting way up high in the Mendocino National Forest. Last summer we drove from Elk Creek to Covelo on FH7. FH stands for Forest Highway which is not necessarily a "highway" by anyone's definition. It was about 15 minutes of pavement and then winding gravel the rest of the 2-1/2 hour way. We drove over the top and down to Covelo. Then out through the Eel River Watershed and over to Willits. It was a great drive broken up by camping overnight at Plaskett Meadow. This is a picture of Plaskett Meadow in summertime.

En route to Eel River Station - which is west of Covelo - we saw a number of very good stands of Red Fir also known as “Silver Tip”. Martha Stewart mentions the dang tree in her latest edition of good things, for crying out loud. This is a tree that only grows above 4,800 feet. It is native to Northern California and Oregon and is a relative of the Noble Fir which grows farther north into Washington. It has wide spacing branches and is sturdy which makes it good for hanging ornaments. With our $10 tree permit from the Forest Service and an ample picnic lunch we set out one early morning to have plenty of time.
We eventually made it to one of our previously scouted areas. Out of the truck and into the forest it was like looking for a tree in a lot. Except no people. Just the wind in the pines and the occasional crunch of snow on the ground. Hmmm this is a good one, what do you think? No? Let’s keep looking. Finally we narrowed it down to two trees. We paced back and forth between the two discussing each ones good points and bad points. We finally made a decision, got out the chain saw and in two seconds we had our tree.

When we got it home we found to our surprise that we had a tree with a slightly “wavy” trunk. I love this effect. It gives the tree a certain “je ne sais quoi”. An organic loveliness that a completely straight tree doesn’t have. Sort of like a bonsai but without human intervention. I am delighted with our tree and peaceful in my life and I hope you are, too, this holiday season.

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