We went for our annual Christmas Tree Hunt today. Every year Darlin’ K and I invite friends to come up to his family’s cabin in the foothills and cut a tree. This provides some thinning of the forest around the cabin (a fire control issue), a very fresh tree for each of our friends who wants to go to some trouble to get one, and a lot of fun all around. When I say “fresh”, I mean that one year, one couple’s tree eventually became an “Easter tree”.
This tradition is subject to the vagaries of Colorado weather, but I think this is only the second time we’ve had to reschedule it. Originally planned for December 8th, we were snowed out last weekend by steady snowfall. The cabin is up a very narrow, very winding road which is extremely dangerous when it’s actually snowing, or before it’s been plowed. It snowed again yesterday, but by the time we went up the plows had been through at least once, and probably a few times.
Even so, and even with the studded snow tires, I was pretty darned careful–it’s not a place I’d like to be stuck (or worse), and cell phone coverage is unreliable, to say the least. Even if I owned a cell phone, that is. (At the cabin itself, there’s no cell phone coverage at all. Personally, that makes me very happy).
Due to the rescheduling and the fact that it was going to hit a high of 18 degrees today, we didn’t have quite the crowd we usually do. Oh, and the fact that all the recent snowfall made it necessary to park up on the road and hike in. It’s a fair bit of hike, too, especially with the snow coming to mid-calf or higher on me. It was still fun.
Beautiful, too. The snow was just about perfect powder–the kind that floats when you kick it up. Not so good for snowmen, but lovely for sledding. The trees were all dusted with snow and the sky was that blue it only gets in cold weather. We had bratwurst cooked on skewers in the wood stove (yes in, not on) for lunch, and lots of hot chocolate and hot tea. With or without brandy. Oh, pictures? Darlin’ K remembered the camera, but unfortunately neither of us thought to bring extra batteries. It conked out before I could get a single “trees in snow” shot.
It took forever to get the kids and myself all bundled up for 8,200 feet in winter. Long underwear, layers, snow pants, coats, mittens, hats, and even makeshift gaiters (old tube socks with the toes cut off) to keep the snow from getting into their boots … actually, that’s the part I really dislike about winter. Not the snow or the cold so much as what one has to do to prepare to go outside in it.
Once we got up there, though, it was seriously beautiful. Darlin’ K had gone up early this morning to get the fire going, the cabin prepared, and to do any necessary shoveling. He also got our tree early, so he’d be around to help anyone out who needed it. The terrain there is pretty much the opposite of flat everywhere. First one must hike up or down or both to get to one’s tree, then one must haul said tree down or up or both, but definitely up to get from the cabin to the road. We have quite a list of things to bring that we include with the invitation every year. Here’s a c&p to give you an idea (this was all written by Darlin’ K):
THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO BRING:
— DIRECTIONS TO THE CABIN. Welcome to the no-cell-phone-coverage-zone! Ahhhh.
— WARM CLOTHES (REALLY?). The cabin is at elevation 8,200 and the ground will be snowy, and it is shady in the trees. It may be downright nippy out. Expect it to be about 20 to 30 degrees colder than in town. Definitely bring a warm hat, boots, and gloves. (Note: cutting the toes off of an old pair of adult socks makes for a decent (and quite fashionable) set of snow gaiters for your kids (or yourself) to keep the snow out of their boots.
— ROPE OR LOTS OF BUNGEE CORDS FOR TYING YOUR TREE TO YOUR CAR ROOF.
— OLD BLANKET, TARP, OR SOMETHING TO PROTECT YOUR CAR ROOF from getting scratched by the trees branches if that matters to you. (It’s also useful for putting around your tree to catch pine needles if you put it inside your car.)
— PLASTIC GROCERY BAG AND RUBBER BANDS to cover the cut end of the bottom of the tree where the sap might ooze out on your roof or in your vehicle. (Can you tell we’ve been doing this a few years?)
— SAW if you have one. We will have at least one good saw and one dull hand saw you can use, but it’s nicer if you don’t have to wait for one.
— TAPE MEASURE if you have one handy. The trees magically look much bigger scrunched against the ceiling of your home than they did under the big sky in the forest. I also suggest measuring your home’s ceiling before you come up.
Yeah, we’ve been doing this a few years …
One of the other women who came up is from my Wednesday night knitting group. Her daughter was wearing the Later Gator Mittens my friend had knit for her, and Mr. B was wearing the ones I’d made him, so the two of them had a great time making their mittens talk to each other and chase each other. Here are the two sets I made the boys:
I worked a little on Darlin’ K’s new hat, but although I brought that and my last Christmas knitting project, I only got a few more rounds done. It’s pretty close–I think two more rounds and I’ll be ready to bind off. The Christmas knitting … well, there’s still a reasonable chance that I’ll make it if I don’t let myself be tempted by any other knitting (or other craft) in the meantime. Luckily, it’s an interesting but quick knit. (I’ll stop with the teasing once it’s been gifted).
Last Wednesday was Darlin’ K’s birthday (and so the hat is late, but I had a small gift for him to unwrap on the day). It was brass monkey weather, as it has been for what seems like weeks now. Our kids were at another couple’s house and we wanted to try an Indian restaurant a couple of blocks from our house. Even in this kind of weather, it seemed completely silly to drive there. So we bundled up (not quite so much as for the tree hunt) and walked. It was really good (and curry is wonderful on a cold day). I was impressed with how many people were there, and how many people walked past, on a freezing cold Wednesday night.
We’re in for a warm-up though. Highs in the mid-40s all next week–I’m sure I’ll see at least a few insane people in shorts!