Isn't it interesting how the best laid plans, once declared, slap you back to earth. I believe it was last week I wrote and informed everyone within hailing distance I planned to work six days a week through the month of December. Yeah, right.
Many weeks ago, due to chapped lips, I developed a crack in my lower lip. Sucker wouldn't heal. I applied the wax in a bottle stuff several times a day. I was very careful with the wound. It would partially heal but it seemed each and every time I opened my mouth the upper portion of the wound would re-open. Then, last Friday, I noticed I didn't feel very well and my lip was extremely sore, painful. I applied more of the wax in the bottle.
By Friday evening the whole of my lower jaw was tender to the touch. It hurt. My lower lip had swollen to twice its size. Doctor time.
Long story short it seems my old nemesis, staff infection, had returned and kissed me hello.
At the doc's office the nice nurse told me to drop my trousers. Sweet Wife giggled. I manned up and took the shot like a big boy. Three days later and my butt still hurts. As I write my lip has reduced in size and I feel somewhat better but here I am at home...and my business is closed.
All this to explain my absence and I'm truly sorry for my silence but to tell you the truth I haven't felt well enough to write. Ever tried to eat and drink with a lower lip the size of a baseball.
I swear I thought I heard the nurse giggle when my trousers hit the floor...
Our weather is hot. I hate it. Of course I'm not in a seasonal mood but cool windy weather is best for those out cruising for evergreens.
I do so miss the days when I'd take saw and ax in hand and jump into my truck and ride the logging roads of Western Washington, my lab by my side, in search of our Christmas tree. The sky gray, light rain. We'd ride and climb to the higher elevations where tiny white puffs of snow peppered my trucks windshield. Dixie, my black lab, insisted I lower her window so she'd not miss one trace of grouse scent.
We'd drive for hours. Frequent stops to measure and test each tree. I'd judge the trees on limb spacing, height, and ease of retrieval as most were located on steep hill sides either above or beneath the logging road. Most were Douglas Fir but occasionally I'd opt for the rare Royal Fir with its circular and even spaced branches.
We owned an old Victorian in those days. It had been built high on a hill with an overview of Puget Sound and there was a beautiful clear and cold creek just yards from our back door. From our living room we had views of two mountain ranges, each wore a year round coat of snow.
When I'd arrive home with the tree I carefully measure and remove a small section of the trunk and place it in the old cast iron stand of faded green and red and carry the tree into the living room and next to the window with the best view of the mountains. Afterwards, when the Christmas tree was dressed, we'd lower the lights and silently stand and admire its beauty.
I remember my last Christmas under the mountains. My last Christmas tree of my last season stood freshly dressed as outside the snowfall was reflected by its dance of red and green and orange light. I remember the tree was a Douglas Fir found high in the Cascades and I remember I had shot three Blue grouse and my lab had retrieved each and placed them gently in my hand. I remember we'd eaten our lunch while sitting upon an long ago cut red ceder stump and watched a bear work its way across a canyon as a lone raven circled the thermals. I remember it as a good day.
Sadly, I cannot remember physical gifts of my last Christmas under the mountains. I do, however, remember the gifts of the tree and its lights and the beauty of the snow and the vistas presented from the windows of my old Victorian home and the smell of firewood and fir and the aroma of fresh baked cookies.
Mostly I remember the happiness.