Monday, January 12, 2009

Alas, Poor Christmas Tree--I Knew Him . . .

I felt particularly guilty when I undecorated our tree this year. We had bought a new tree, a hearty pine which was still most gloriously alive on the 9th of January, and whose fragrance still graced our house like a memory of good cheer. I hadn't done enough research about re-planting a tree, although I realize that many people advocate this idea--here's one example. We also don't have much room in our little yard, and a pine tree, given its druthers, would grow taller, right up into the ugly wires that extend from our telephone pole.

So I, like Gary Cooper in High Noon, sought help with the Christmas Tree and found only tumbleweeds and a far-away whistling sound, accompanied by the distant slamming of doors. Alone, I dragged the poor spruce outside like a rejected Old Yeller of a pine, all the way to our compost heap. In a final protest, the tree left needle marks in the newfallen snow.

"Sorry," I told it as it stood, graceful and tall, against the fence, emitting its beautiful scent. "But the birds need you." To prove this point, my sons and I made some little packages for the birds and left them inside the tree. We'd recently been slammed with about two feet of snow, and the birds were having a rough time finding victuals. My sons spread peanut butter on some biodegradable coffee filters, then sprinkled bird seed on top of this. My nature-loving friends tell me that peanut butter and bird seed is a most indulgent treat for birds. We also filled a little lid with more birdseed and left it sitting on a branch.

This way, I told myself, nature was giving back to nature, and I wouldn't have to lose sleep over putting out a tree that was mainly still alive.

But next year--next year I'll dig that hole in advance. I'll have the location all picked out, and I won't have to worry about the frozen ground. I'll let the tree have its Christmas adornments, and then I'll send it back to nature in a new location and be able to enjoy its beauty for the rest of our lives--the tree's and mine. :)


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

As a city dweller whose tree is cut long before it reaches the vendors whose wares pop up along Manhattan streets the day after Thanksgiving, I need elucidation. How do you get a tree with its root ball still attached? How do you get it into your house? How do you stand it up? Tree roots are massive, as far as I know. I can't imagine how you'd keep the tree in condition for replanting later. Sadder than a tree on a compost heap: a tree on the sidewalk waiting for the garbage truck to come.

Sandra Parshall said...

Rather than uprooting a healthy tree, then trying to establish it in a new location in the dead of winter, why not buy an artificial one that you can use again and again? You can disassemble it for compact storage. Regardless of how much you water it, a real tree is dangerous indoors. Every year, all over the country, hundreds of people are injured when real trees catch fire. In our area yesterday, a woman was trying to drag a tree out of the house to the curb for trash pickup and let it get too close to the fire in an open fireplace. Result: injuries to the woman and $150,000 damage to the house.

Julia Buckley said...

My understanding is that if you can get the tree to grow little root tendrils in the water, it is plantable. But I think I need to do some more web research.

And I know what you mean, Sandra. When the boys were babies we always had an artificial tree. Now, because we've grown rather addicted to the scent and sight of a real tree, we make sure to buy a very fresh one that will not dry out and become easy kindling. We light it only when we're in the room, and keep it watered.

And an interesting note: almost everyone on my block got a real tree, because I see them all sitting in the alley. :)

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