Xmas Tree Expedition

Yesterday Catherine and I had resolved to go walking into the sugarbush and cut a small spruce tree for the holiday. Then Felicity called and invited us to join her and Fraser on a rather more ambitious tree-finding expedition. So a small walk with the dogs turned into one of those magic family outings: four adults, two kids and three dogs.

Catherine, with Ruby and Sadie, posing in front of the pumphouse

We met at the Hidden Springs “pump house” (where sap from the HSM sugarbush is collected and concentrated via “reverse osmosis” before being trucked to the C-E Maple sugarhouse.) Fraser wanted to show us the work he’s been doing over the past few months to develop the sugarbush, so we piled onto three ATVs and Fra led us through the woods and up…and up, more or less to the top of Bemis Hill where the Hidden Springs and C-E Maple properties meet. (Felicity drove the pickup the back way, past the C-E Maple sugarhouse and up the more developed roads through that sugarbush to meet us. With her rode Ruby — our black lab, who is too old to run along with the ATVs, and Tess, who just prefers to stay close to Felicity.)  
Catherine and I found our tree — a particularly scruffy specimen that had the one thing we really look for:  an old bird’s nest.  Our niece Sophie had more ambitious plans for their tree and found a lovely — and far more symmetrical — 15′ spruce at the very top of the hill.  We met up with Felicity, who had thoughtfully brought a thermos of hot chocolate, and loaded the trees into the truck.

Me, with our tree and it's bird's nest

Riding the ATVs through the sugarbush is great fun, not least because the kids — of course — drove two of the three.  On the way up it was Fraser and Catherine in the lead, Jamie driving solo in the middle, and Sophie — with yours truly riding behind — bringing up the rear.  On the way back, Felicity rode with Fraser, Catherine took my place behind Sophie and I drove the truck back with the trees (and Ruby.)

Sophie (16) and Jamie (13) skip down the trail (oh, to be young!)

Sounds pretty ordinary, but time spent with those guys — especially Sophie and Jamie, who’ve been our surrogate grandchildren for many years — is special.  And the woods are magical, always.


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