One of the best things about winter in Maine is the clear cold sky we get much of the time, mostly in January and February, but also in December sometimes. The Canadian high pressure systems that dominate our weather about half the time may bring cold, but they also bring clear, deep blue skies and abundant sunshine.
Yesterday and the day before were like that. It was the weekend after Final Exams at college and we had grading, but Aimee also wanted to visit her beech tree study plots out in the woods behind the house, while I wanted to get our Christmas tree.
This meant that Mary-dog and Haggis both got a good walk with Aimee, while Haggis got two, because he came, as he always does, with me to find the tree.
The annual Womerlippi Christmas tree is an occasion for ritual. It always follows the same ten important steps:
- The husband announces he's off to get the tree.
- The wife groans and complains "not again!"
- The husband must then say "Only a little one."
- The husband then takes Haggis the dog out, with a saw or some other tool, disappears into the deep forest for a very long time, where he finds a suitable tree, cuts it, and drags it into the garage to trim. The tree must be malformed, lopsided, and at least two feet longer than the ceiling height of the house.
- The tree, suitably trimmed, covered in snow and dead leaves, is erected in the house. The top must be bent over by the ceiling. The wife must look at it and shake her head theatrically. The husband drags the tree back out, trims enough off the base to make it fit, and brings it back in.
- Now the tree is really deformed.
- The husband must now be unable to find the ornaments, even though he put them away last year. Then ensues the ritual 'hunt for the ornament box."
- Finding the ornaments and lights, the husband trims the tree.
- The husband lights the tree and stands back, rapt, to admire his handiwork.
- The wife inspects the husband's handiwork, and smiles just a little tiny bit.
This year I failed utterly to complete the ritual as it should have been done. The tree was not big enough. It fit in the room the first time!
Better luck next year.
In other important news, the winter solstice occurs tomorrow around 7pm Maine time.
It's always a good feeling, when you live in a northern place, to see the days begin to get longer again. The coldest weather is still to come, but the sunshine and blue skies we begin to get more and more after the solstice make up for the colder temperatures.