Category Archives: Holidays

Orphan Tree

My husband and I enjoy going out to a local tree farm and cutting our own Christmas tree each December.  We usually go on a Sunday afternoon, a week or so before Christmas Day.  We don’t like to start Christmas festivities too close on the heels of Thanksgiving and we don’t want our tree to dry out before Christmas morning.  Dried needles falling on gaily wrapped Christmas packages are just not part of our tradition.  😉

This year we picked a Sunday about 10 days before Christmas.  The skies were grey as we left the house, but it is December in the Great Northwest, what could we expect?  We drove north on the peninsula and the clouds grew darker.  Then the sprinkles hit the windshield.  Oh well, what’s a minor shower when you are just going to spend a few minutes walking in a tree farm that you know will have lots of trees that will fit the bill?

We drove north on Baker-Ames Road to the Ames farm, remembering that the owners are an older couple that seem to have lots of helpers at this time of year.  As we drove through the fields to our usual parking area near the fir trees I noticed that there did not appear to be as many trees as in the past. Perhaps the farmers had stopped replanting; were thinking about retiring and just selling the trees that remained.  When we parked, I noticed that there were many short trees (shorter than my five and a half feet), and a number of really tall trees, and not many that were “just right.”

So we headed for a field that looked as if it had a few more trees than the others, and perhaps a slightly better selection.  There!  That looks like a good tree.  Oh, but it has a lot of salal and blackberries disguising its bareness below.  What about this one?  No, it does have a nice shape, but it is too yellowish.

This?  And so it went.  Henry took off ahead of me, striding toward his idea of “just right.” My mind got stuck on the idea of dark green versus greenish-yellow.  Were the Doug firs getting too much sun out in this field, or was it a matter of nutrition?  Perhaps it was time to seriously consider getting another variety of tree.

Oh!  Here is a pretty one. It is dark green; it looks to be the right height. But it is crooked. Actually, it is standing right up against that very tall tree. Did it grow that close to the big one? Hmm…it appears to be leaning against its tall neighbor.

“Henry?  Come look at this tree!”  It is dark and full, and looks like the right height.  Except – – it might already have been cut.  It is leaning against this big one.”

We looked it over.  He pulled it away from the tall one.  Sure enough, it had already been cut!  We immediately understood why it had been left in the lot – it has a big bald spot on one side.  So why did they cut it in the first place?

It was such a pretty tree, otherwise.  And we always stand our tree in a corner, so a bald side was not a deal breaker for us.  It might even help the tree fit into the corner and leave a little more space for all the family gathering around the tree this Christmas.

So we carried our orphan tree to our car – just think how its Christmas might have ended otherwise!  We tied it to the roof rack and headed for the exit.

The prices for the Ames Trees have not changed in a decade or more:

Douglas Firs:                  $15

Orphan Tree – All Dressed up for the Holidays!

Grand Firs:                    $20

Noble Firs:                      $25

“Twenty dollars!” said the woman at the exit booth.  Aha! I thought.  I had picked out a Grand Fir.  I guess that is where I will look for dark green trees in future years.  There was another small thought, that I deserved a discount for taking home an Orphan Tree, but it was the tree that I wanted, so I had no lingering complaints.

Time out for Thanksgiving and Skiing

Thanksgiving came early for our family as one couple was leaving for some beach time in Thailand.  So we had a feast for eight on Sunday, November 24.

On Tuesday we dropped the travelers off at SeaTac Airport and continued north to Canada.  We had discovered a really lovely cross country ski area – Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, in the Canadian Okanogan – a few years ago.  It is in the British Columbia Silver Star Provincial Park.  The elevation is 5400 ft/1650 m elevation and the snow arrives a lot earlier there than in the Washington Cascades.

It is the first time I have tried skiing since foot surgery last spring, so I was a little worried.  On the first day I learned that my surgically remodeled big toe does not like bending much, so I have to keep my kick and glide crisp.  No more pushing off on bent toes, but otherwise I had no problems.  On the second day we tried a “back country trail,” but it required much more flexibility than my foot was able to contribute, so we returned to the wider, groomed trails.

The temperatures were right around freezing, the snow was great, and the trails well groomed.  We were skiing on weekdays, so the Sovereign Lakes’ trails and lodges were pleasantly uncrowded.  The trail system features a lodge with snack bar in the parking lot and a warming cabin (with a well stocked woodstove) accessible by a combination of green (easy) and blue (intermediate) trails.

On our last day there, we remembered to ask a Canadian couple to take our photo:

Skiing at Sovereign Lakes        Skiing at Sovereign Lakes

In the past we have been challenged to find a turkey dinner in Canada on Thanksgiving Day.  This year there was a Denny’s Restaurant near our hotel in Vernon with turkey dinner a standard on its menu.  It was fun to eat our classic turkey dinner (all but the green bean casserole) in a family restaurant, surrounded by a wide variety of families with children enjoying dinner out.

The culinary highlights of the trip were the Little Tex Restaurant in Vernon and lunch at the D’Anjou Bakery beside Highway 2, between Wenatchee and Cashmere, Washington.  Little Tex has an amazingly varied menu that starts with Tex-Mex (like their décor) and ventures broadly.  The bakery is a family favorite in Central Washington and has expanded to lunch prep fairly recently.  The baked goods are delicious!

While we were in Canada I realized that I needed to send Thanksgiving greeting cards to a few long-distance relatives I usually talk with on holidays.  To my amazement, has a turkey volcano card!  How could I resist?