Bucolic beauty of late autumn: I grabbed this shot of Mount Baker last time I drove across the Skagit Valley on my way home to the San Juans.
HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAYS, somehow we feel busy even in our island hermitage, where the only other life forms we see some days this time of year are fat spotted towhees on our deck railing and hairy woodpeckers hanging on the suet cage. (Who knew they made a squeak like a cat toy while eating?) We’re busy making lots of plans to get together with friends and family.
We already have our Christmas tree, with plans to put it up on Saturday when Barbara is back from a round of doctor visits in Seattle.
Though our Christmas is more a celebration of solstice and a good excuse to brighten winter’s cold, short days, we go whole hog with Christmas traditions. It’s how we were brought up. And we do a pretty spectacular tree, festooned with ornaments collected over decades, inherited from parents and grandparents, souvenirs of travels, knitted and sewed, or picked up from the forest floor (including a new bunch of nice Ponderosa pine cones I fetched home from a trip to Winthrop in September).
In recent years, we got our tree from places like Home Depot, which wasn’t very satisfying. We tried to find a good u-cut tree farm, but many seem to sell out the weekend after Thanksgiving, which has always felt a little early for us.
This year, serendipity stepped in. When Barbara and I took our boat to Lopez Island last weekend for a little shopping and a trip to the dump, we found a tree lot set up by the Lopez 4-H Club. The trees were, ahem, island priced. But we decided it was a lot easier to stuff a tree into WeLike and get it home in a half hour than to wrap it and tie it on to the car for a freeway trip home from our next visit to Seattle.
And it was much more satisfying to give our money to the 4-H kids on the next island than to the big store headquartered in Atlanta. We came home with a pretty Nordmann fir. I gave it a fresh cut with the chainsaw and it’s sitting out back in a bucket of water, smelling spicy and good, waiting to be the centerpiece of our December celebrations.
Our traditions keep evolving the longer we live on our rock. I think we’re becoming islanders. And our cats are more and more intrigued by the woodpeckers.