We loaded up three car loads of friends for the trek up to Butte Meadows last weekend. Tommy was the lead car in our Barbie mobile, the little two-door coupe. A car load of parents and kids were behind us and Curious George in his truck with dog Marni.
I had phoned my friend L.B. Curlew, who lives in snow country, and he assured me there were only patches of snow on the ground and that the day should be clear and bright, just right for finding the perfect Christmas tree.
Tommy and I sang Christmas carols in the car. Funny how you can only remember the first verse of most carols, then you just hum a few bars of the second verse until you feel stupid. Occasionally Id just make up some goofy lyrics, many of them not fit to print.
The Christmas tree-cutting permits were procured at the Bambi Inn, we snapped a couple of pictures with the rubber chicken, and up the hill we continued.
But then suddenly the road didnt feel comfortable.
Mile after mile, my anxiety increased and I asked Tommy to pull over and try to find a place to turn around. There was no place to turn around, so we kept driving, with the two car loads close behind us.
We kept going up the hill, despite my lengthy vocalization of misgivings.
George, in the four-wheel-drive truck, was the first one of us to skid off the roadway. This wasnt a huge deal. Some guy in a humongous truck towed him out with a rope.
Next it was the car load with the kids. We all pushed a bit and they were out.
At the top of the hill it was the Barbie car. Tommy kept revving the tires in the ice until the engine overheated. After receiving a few select words from me, a bunch of us got out and rocked the car back and forth until we got going again.
Im not sure if its a female thing or just a human thing, but I hate it when I feel trapped by someone elses decision. It feels like being a child, when your parents tell you to go to your room or force you to eat something you dont like. My mood was exacerbated by the thought that I was 150 percent right and merely being ignored in my demands to turn around and go back to where the road was black instead of covered in ice.
Instead of beating on the dashboard like I was thinking about in my head, I slowly let the anger burn inside in simmering silence.
We were in the Barbie car, not some mongo extended-cab truck with four-wheel-drive. Why werent our friends behind us waving their arms wildly, honking their horns and flashing their lights to tell us to turn around?
Why on earth was I in a relationship with a man who obviously cared so little about my personal safety to put me in this perilous situation? Did I remember to renew my AAA membership? Did everyone have their seatbelts on? Did I have enough snacks in case we were stuck on the mountain all night?
By the time we got up there, I had made the complete transformation from Happy Heather to Hagatha the sea hag.
We found a tree that was good enough and lopped it off with the chain saw. I was making my friends uncomfortable because I was so obviously peeved, so I decided a brisk solo stomp through the woods was in order.
When your head is boiling, its easy to have poor judgment. I stormed down the hill a little at an angle and the road did not appear where I thought it would.
I started to panic and knew I had to go back or risk getting lost in the drifts of white.
When my sister and I used to go hiking in the woods as kids, we invented the Hacking peacock cry. Its a distinct sound that helped us keep track of where the other one was walking.
In the snow Saturday I yelled out my Hacking peacock cry and heard Tommys voice just a short distance behind me.
When I had raced out into the woods in my angry, childish huff, he had followed me to make sure I wouldnt wander off too far.
Darn it when you want to be angry with someone and then he does something so sweet and protective.
We did survive the trip back, after being stuck in a traffic jam of about 80 cars for two hours. Three cars and a truck had skidded off the roadway and a snowmobile had to go down to the nearest business to have sand put on the road.
We made the best of it while we waited. The kids pretended they were ice skating and skidded across the road in their sneakers.
When we got home we put on 95.1 FM, which is playing Christmas music 24/7, and decorated the tree.
Its the most beautiful tree Ive ever had. Instead of an angel or a star, a dragonfly rests on top and the white lights make the room look warm and bright. Tommy put just the right amount of tinsel on it to capture the shimmer of the white lights.
Hey,? Tommy said as we were admiring it. You were right. We shouldnt have gone so far up the hill.?
Actual useful information
The following tips are from the National Christmas Tree Association, www.christmastree.org.
If you buy from a tree lot, cut about a half an inch off the trunk and dont cut it at an angle or V-shape. Soak in a bucket of water after cutting.
Maintain the water level in the stand each day to keep the tree fresh.
Drilling holes in the bottom of the trunk will not increase the uptake of water.
Dont place the tree near a heat source, to avoid fire hazard and to keep the tree from drying out.
Always turn the lights off before going to bed and dont burn the tree when its time to throw it away.