Our winter beekeepers meeting canceled, and Mama having left early in anticipation of its arrival, the ice storm blustered and blew and dripped and dropped and chilled and gusted and fogged and fell as I stayed nestled snug as a bug in my little old house, stoking the stove with wood fetched by Sweetheart before he left to go to the great north, and stowed, safe and dry on the covered porch for me, each trip outside to refill the rack that lives next to the old Jotul blowing in gusts of freezing wind to gutter the candles, the power flickering on and off every now and again, the radio crackling school closings, and the great everything spinning away out there in the cold wet dark and me cozy, safe, and dry under a quilt. In the morning, the world was covered in ice. A thin layer of it coating everything and bringing the branches of the trees down to kiss the ground, almost to breaking, but luckily still wick with Autumn’s sap, lithe and strong, and tiny icicles off of every roofline, the old birds nest I just discovered in the hedge, full of snow, it all already starting to melt in the morning’s quiet sun. But for a moment, a silent iceworld, holding its breath, waiting for turkish delight.
I snapped this shot of the little birds nest in the big red maple a few weeks ago, just as the tight red buds were starting to form on the bare branches to signal the end of winter. Just this past weekend, the spiny flowers had started to unfurl, a first fuzzy pop of spring color against the sky.Then, the big late season storm hit and the branch with the nest and the fuzzy red blooms came down under the weight of the snow. The yard littered with similar fallen soldiers, the aftermath of what seems to be the last gasp of winter. Sigh.
So, in the golden hour, Mama and I drove out into the sun in search of the mythical, the soft-needle Christmas Tree, a bushy varietal of great white pine that in New York City might as well be the great white whale. Miniature Forests pop up on every street corner there, but every last one of them only offers sharp needled balsam firs. We drove into the sun out to an old nursery up Afton that, despite rumors to the contrary, apparently no longer sells pumpkins or turkeys or wreaths or trees (pointy OR soft) or any other assorted holiday ephemera but is actually now a mushroom farm. Ok. Luckily, sweetly, the young stoned mushroom farmer came out and told us that there was a place right down the road that sold trees. “I don’t know if they sell the soft ones, but they sure are nice”. We traced our steps back and around and right, lo, by the side of the road were gorgeous orderly rows of fat soft trees growing, ready to be tagged and cut.The wonderful proprietor, who lives in a big, pretty farmhouse with a circular drive right behind the trees, told us to go pick the one we wanted and he’d be down to help us cut and pack it. We walked up and down the long rows, weighing the merits of each tree like Old Hat, New Hat (too leafy, too lumpy, too beefy, too bumpy, too Charlie Browny, too pointy, too townie), until we came upon the one. The slightly skinnier, somewhat awry, quite jaunty, gloriously fluffy, and perfectly soft one. The one that had the birds nest in it. Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid, Feather by Feather the bird builds its nest. We’ll take it, this is the one for home.