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Friday, December 16, 2005

The year of the blue tree, part 5

In which the blue forest invades a cottage in the Village of Templeton...

6:58 p.m. N is asleep, and R falls asleep immediately upon arrival. At home, we discover that the tree is about sixteen inches too tall for the 9' 6"ceiling. Mike measures the ceiling with a 9' 6" fishing pole. We knew the tree was too tall, but we didn't know how high the ceiling was. There! that's settled. We can't cut off the bottom, because it now appears that the spruce is actually three fused trees, and the base is meant to be hold them together. Briefly I remember the perfect ten-dollar tree of last year, a lovely thing that was immaculate in form and just tickled the ceiling. We heave and wrestle and turn this multiplying tree in our enormous cast-iron Victorian bucket stand. We chop the top--the many tops--and I stuff the leftovers into a big galvanized bucket. There, they look like a small tree, a civilized and easy tree. Our spruce looks utterly wild, untamed, a whole forest of trees crammed into an 1808 parlor. We discover three of last summer's nests. They belong neither to hummingbirds nor wrens but are generous habitations, streaming with the raveled grass from the hummocks. Tips of a possibly infinite number of trees swim on the ceiling, bent slightly.

It will look astonishing, I say.

Mike wants to cut more at the top so that we can use our Polish glass finial. It will be all stubs, if we start trimming, I point out. Maybe we should just hide the finial somewhere in the tree, somewhere surprising. It may be that everything about this tree is supposed to be surprising, beginning with the fact that it made it over hill, dale, hummock, etc.

Well! That is enough for one day.

I'm awfully glad that I have a no-never-work rule for Sunday, or I might have mistaken the day for hard labor instead of a mere dawdling afternoon of Christmas tree cutting. Everyone who is awake is ravenous, and the others will be likewise, when we wake them. After dinner, we can light candles in the living room and admire our personal forest. Who knows what might happen next, with this huge wild green place asserting itself in the room? Funny, now that it's in the lamplight the tree doesn't even look blue.


That was a day in Advent 2001: the fifteenth of December. Life has gone flooding on, over the dam of sticks and through the magical woods. N is no longer toddling about in a tall cap, and B and R are now teenagers, shedding strands of the cocoon of childhood, holding a dying man close, encountering their first major death--looking forward and looking back. Life and death skip hand and hand through the blue forest. I go on being a writer and a mother, living two lives, watching out for wolves in the undergrowth and falling stars above the canopy. Other nigh-perfect trees have come and gone, but a blue branch still stirs the imagination.

Today is a Snow Day, no school, no karate, no cars passing in the street. It's windless, so the flakes are falling straight down and the firs are keeping their snow. The sketchy plum trees and the gazebo with its ravel of Dutchman's pipe vines go foreign and lovely.


  1. My, but you're good. I was transported, right there. Lovely. (And I think I've heard that angel joke at least once.)

  2. Thanks! But you don't say that it made you actually want some of that nice cold bracing Yankee air...

  3. Yes, how well written. Particularly the bit after Finis. California air these days, at least in the far north, is clinging and damp and a bit disspiriting (now, you'd think there should be two "s"s in that word, by logic, but by vision it looks alas, like we need but one. Rather like the multiplying trees.)

  4. Except with the s's one gets a delete key and never has to use wire and screws to keep them from falling on the floor. And now I lob an e-snowball all the long way to California...

  5. So do you have a big tree again?

    You can see my somewhat mundane posting of my tree story at

    I do hope you are having a happy time. Having young children in the house always makes for a Merry time.

    I am so looking forward to my grandaughter coming this Sat. She is now one, and a delight.

    Merry Christmas to you Marly.

  6. Big, yes.

    Forest, no...

    Just whipped in from karate and must go be dutiful, but I will take a look when I tumble out of bed tomorrow.

    Have a very merry Christmas with your grandbaby!

  7. our advent wreath caught fire during church! I think my hair focused energy and made it explode! It was the funniest thing I have seen in church in 100 years!

  8. Were you wearing the red velvet hat with candles at the time?

  9. Another case in which I so clearly SEE what you so vividly write. Beautiful, Marly. You wizard.

  10. Some day we'll have to be wizards together...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.