“who found you in the green forest?”

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?

bare boughs

Our tree has just been set into the corner by the south window. John is stringing lights and just before he began, I wanted to say, Let’s leave it bare this year, just this one year. We chose a tree growing in a thicket of whippy alders, under the big Cheekeye-Dunsmuir power lines above the Malaspina substation, and before the trees get very big, they are hacked to the ground to keep the lines clear. So a good place to cut a Christmas tree because at least we will cherish it for the week it’s in our house, and remember it. “Who found you in the green forest?” It was us, knowing within five minutes that this was the tree. The boxes of ornaments are on the floor by the sideboard. The Wayne Ngan bowl will be filled with nuts and chocolates.

But to leave the tree bare one year would also be a good thing. To keep the green boughs clear, to keep the lyrical shape of it intact, unfettered by lights or wooden horses or silvery bells. Not this year. The lights, as I mentioned, are being strung in and through the lovely branches.

look                    the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine

For all of you who are looking at your own tree or remembering the trees of Christmases past or lighting candles against the darkness or singing those old true carols, I wish you the happiest of days and a beautiful year to follow.

the tree comes up the bank

John and Forrest just cut this year’s Christmas tree. Instead of going up the mountain for one, or cutting one from the roadside (we get a permit for this), John spotted a nice one down the bank in front of our house. We don’t bring our tree into the house until the morning of Christmas Eve. We decorate it during the day, with cups of hot cider and baked treats to accompany the work. Every ornament has a story and part of the fun is remembering where each came from — the paper trees cut from wallpaper samples and decorated with macaroni and glitter (kindergarten projects), the Japanese paper lanterns sent to John’s family by his grandmother in England, the glass stars made by June Malaka, the clay fish and bears, pine cones shaped into Santas … I love coming downstairs on Christmas morning to the smell of Douglas fir (I know balsam firs smell heavenly but they are few and far between in the woods near us) and the surprise of the tree dressed in its finery. I’ve just found the little book I like to keep at hand this time of year, Little Tree by e.e. cummings, for the beauty of its illustrations and its tender lines:

look   the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine

. . .

put up your little arms

and i’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy


If you are reading this, I wish you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season, full of warmth and joy, and maybe the scent of Douglas fir, of cinnamon sticks in hot cider, a shortbread tree, a star.