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Tree choosing requires a keen eye Richard Pena | Sat, Dec 08 2012 12:00 PM

There are some whose heights cause its tops to touch the ceilings of the average house. They are the ones that take up an entire corner of a room and are the central attraction as one enters.

There are others that are perhaps only two- to three-feet high and are displayed on tables, generally in front of windows. These, too, though miniature, attract attention.

Most, however, are of moderate size, not too tall but still of dimensions that make them the focal point of the area. I am, of course, referring to Christmas trees.

In last week’s column we wrote of the Magi, as one of the many symbols of Christmas. The Christmas tree, to our way of thinking, would have to take top billing. Its origin is so rich in tradition that it is lost in antiquity. It is believed to be of Bavarian origin, somewhere in the vicinity of Germany, something that seems reasonable.

I suppose that those of us in my generation—or two or three steps lower—could recall and reminisce about Christmas trees in their growing up years. I vividly remember some of those of my youth.

I had an uncle, my Dad’s brother Frank, who had a ranch just outside of San Antonio. My dad would load us all in whatever means of transportation he had at the time and head for the ranch armed with a sharp axe. We would roam around the acreage until we found one that met with my mother’s approval. With a few quick strokes of the axe we were all set on the first step of our Christmas celebration.

The ranch had many trees. And a majority of these were evergreens. Alas, few were of the design and symmetry seen in the traditional tree. For whatever reason my mother always selected a mature cedar. They were green but the shape left much to be desired. Never fear, probably said our mother, and she was right. We would haul the tree home and with a bit of trimming and decorating we had a tree that would have brought in the gold cup, had there been such a thing.

The cedar tree is of a very rich color, a green not found in the pine or fir. It will also maintain life longer than the others. And the aroma is beyond compare. The scent can permeate most of the rooms in the house. We used to even enjoy the aroma in the kitchen, that area that was known for scents of its own. It would vie with the pleasantness of freshly baked pies, and of those other holiday morsels that were characteristics of the season.

One of my favorite Christmas Tree Farms is The Pinery located nearby on Sweetwater Road. I have purchased my tree there for about 20 years, since the business opened. Its location is on county property, part of the regional park that can support a business without a permanent structure.  They, thus, have a huge, white tent surrounded by a forest of trees, freshly brought in from Oregon.

The access to the site is on Sweetwater Road right across from the Community Church.

For the past several years the farm has been under the jurisdiction of John and Judy Crumley, a couple that come in from Oregon. Judy, unfortunately, had to return to Oregon because of a health problem. This year John is assisted by Elsa Pedraza from Alpine.  Crumley is retired and has this seasonal job because he hates to be idle. Elsa told me that they have many varieties of trees this year. These include various types from the genus, fir.  One may select, for example a Nordham Fir, a Grand Fir, or the traditional Douglas fir.  I will impose on one of my truck-owning neighbors to take me over there next week for a tree and, once more, make part of our place somewhat festive.

By the way, Crumley being from the back country in Oregon is quite a hunter. He will be going back after the first of the year and intends to get his customary deer or elk. He tells me that he has bagged many elk over the years and avers that the elk meat is the tastiest of game. I have never had elk. I wonder if I could … no, I had better not.

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