Getting the tree

The wind is furious that we have dared to come outside. We enter the woods quickly, and a door closes behind us. We are inside. This is the storehouse of winter. Here the snow is piled deep. Here the cones and berries are in abundance. Here are the trees.

We twist through uneven paths, over logs, across make-shift bridges. We walk on water, clear frozen pools that look impossibly deep. On the ground a story has been hastily written from the night before. It tells the tale of fox, deer, and turkey, but we can only make out some of the words.

Around a bend and into a frozen wetland. Here is the tree. I break a path through the snow for my children to follow. My wife marks the spot and I begin to saw. A raccoon watches us from the very top of a dead tree. We will not leave unnoticed.

The sound of the saw is the only sound. The tree falls lightly into the snow and I quickly stand it up again for all to inspect. We shake out the dead needles and loose twigs. My gloves are covered in pine pitch. The air is replaced with the pungent smell.

Back to the house with our prize. A deer crosses our path, running off into the dense brush, hurrying to tell someone what we have done. We bring the tree inside and set it up. As I take my gloves off, and am again overwhelmed by their smell, I realize that I have it backwards: the tree has taken us outside.

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