The Yard Man was under the employment of a Christmas tree farm not far from our house. He's going to be driving shoppers into the fields every Saturday for the next few weeks, and I determined that tagging a tree today (for future cutting) would be easy and fun.
But, Dear Reader, it was a damp and gray afternoon. After I climbed down off that wagon and started tramping around in search of Christmas tree perfection, the clouds yielded up real tears. By the time I left that tree farm, I was damp and a little gray myself.
As I explained to the Yard Man, each time he jingled by to see if I'd achieved success, "I'm driving myself crazy!"
For here's the thing, Reader Dear: I was intent on finding a Douglas Fir that was lush and green and beautifully formed, and there were none!
Well, there were some that looked healthy and green, but they were few and far between. Worst of all, they'd already been tagged!
Dear Reader, I searched and searched. Tramped and tramped. Always the good ones were tagged!
I rode on the wagon once with another party who had found Christmas tree happiness in a relatively short time. But, they had a Frasier Fir.
At last it was quitting time.
I gritted my teeth, tagged a tree that I tried to love, and rode my jingling way back to the shop.
"I searched a long time!" I explained to the owner of the trees.
"So many of them were filled with brown needles."
"Yes," he explained. "The Douglas Firs got a disease. We had to burn three-hundred of them that were too damaged to recover! There were only a few that escaped the disease, and those were tagged by Penn State. They are going to do research on them."
Then he added,
"We decided we will let our customers buy them. But, Penn State can take any of those healthy tagged trees that we don't sell."
Reader Dear...uh...did you hear it? Most of those hundreds of Douglas Firs were suffering from a disease (they say that many will recover by next year). The few nice tagged ones are only reserved for Penn State if no one buys them!
Epilogue: After nearly two hours of slogging around under weeping skies, and believing that any lush green Douglas Fir I found was already claimed by someone else, I couldn't go out in that field again! I carried away a nice-looking and disease-free Douglas Fir that had already been cut and sitting at the shop for sale* when I boarded The Yard Man's wagon to begin my quest.
*"It's not true of all the varieties, but the Douglas Firs start dying the minute they're cut," the tree farm owner told me.**
**"We cut this tree on Wednesday," he said.