Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Family Tree, Conclusion (Being A Series Of Random Anecdotes)
He shakes most of the snow off and its branches unfold, still green and lush, despite the decline of the tree that bore it. Above us the sun, high and weightless, sends down a light that glance off the boughs, dazzling us. For a moment the tree seems to have an aura, and in that aura, I can almost see it layered in tinsel, dripping with ornaments, lit with a yuletide glow. In that brief moment out among the trees, under a cold sun in middle December, this dying tree has been reborn into a new life.
Dad starts to drag it down the hill. Then stops, takes a breath.
"By Gorry, I reckon you better spell me for awhile. Besides," he winks one snow-flecked eyelid. "I can't have all the fun."
I start down the hill, dragging the tree, expecting a hard walk ahead. After all, it took us over an hour to walk in here, slogging uphill through heavy, moist snow. But as the hill descends, my feet move faster, the tree seems lighter. In a minute, I'm bounding down the hill and the woods are flying by on either side. To my left, I think I see a flash of movement, the briefest impression of being watched by eyes as ancient as the woods. Is it the moose?
I'll never know. The tree is skimming across the crust of the snow now, its momentum pushing me down the hill faster and faster. Any minute, I'm sure I'll trip and tumble ass over teakettle down the hill, the tree sailing off into the bushes. But I keep my balance, kicking my boots high, sending snow everywhere. I hear a rumbling laugh next to me, and though I can't see him, I know Dad is running along beside me.
In minutes we are sliding to a halt at the bottom, laughing and whooping, cheeks red with delight. We each take an end of the tree and, arm in branch in arm, we march for the house, where strong, hot coffee is steaming on the stove and a space has been cleared in the living room for our prize.
Later, as our mittens and my foolish cap dry on the stove, we sit back and admire our evergreen treasure one final time before it is adorned for Christmas.
My dad notices some imperfection in the way the tree is resting in its stand--he just knows, the tree tells him. He instructs me to tighten this bolt or that on our old wrought-iron tree stand. And while I'm on my knees under our tree in our house in the snow, I offer up a brief prayer for the miraculous blizzard that allowed me to be here.
Thanks be to Gorry.
And Merry Christmas to you and yours,
From Somewhere On The Masthead