Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Of Christmas trees and cobbling together

This year I broke with tradition and took a husband with me to pick out the Christmas tree instead of a dog who, frankly, didn't have an eye for design anyway.

This is a view from the Christmas tree plantation, looking over other pheasant drives -

The plantation is bordered by a crop of Jerusalem artichokes, put in for pheasant cover. I have to walk through it to get to the trees -

The trees are planted for windbreaks so individual specimens are imperfect. Charlie Brown Christmas tree territory. But we found a tree with at least one good side and in easy reach, so I took him down -

Obviously I should be wearing protective equipment every time I use the saw

Trimmed him and snedded him -

Held him up for the official naming ceremony. Mike christened the tree 'Mervyn' -

Mervyn and I made our way back to the truck -

I got him into the truck -

And tied down for our ride back home on bumpy farm tracks -

The rough ride home pruned a few of his branches, but we found his best side, faced it out, tidied him up with secateurs, and popped him in the tree stand - well, wedged him in with some fireplace kindling for support -

A strand of lights, some ribbon, and a few decorations gussied him up for the big day -

Not bad, Mervyn. Homely but festive.

After the holidays, Mervyn will be recycled for cover in pheasant drives. Mike collects all the old Christmas trees from the nearby villages, and uses them to replace cover for pheasants on windy hillside drives in winter, when so much natural vegetation has died back. Mervyn will be going back to his roots, pun intended.

There aren't many presents to put under the tree this year - the customary socks for Mike and flannel pyjamas for me, of course - but the saw bench (Mike) and sewing machine (me) will have to wait as both the truck and the Land Rover decided to break down at the same time this past month. Our gift from the mechanic was a bill in excess of a grand. Still, two vehicles that run is a great present as far as I'm concerned. Even Mervyn is going to have to make sacrifices and give up his tree skirt that I made out of an old birdseed sack. I need the burlap for setting mole traps, as moles have invaded the garden again leaving heaps of soil like speed bumps on the lawn.

After tree trimming and evening chores, I cobbled together a dinner of leftovers - home made pumpkin and mushroom soup, with apple and Gorgonzola on bread toasted under the grill. There was even enough apples and some pastry left to make a strudel, which we ate with double cream poured over it. We opened a bottle of Churchill's vintage port to toast the tree and another year, to give thanks that we're both still here, and to laugh at how much we enjoy our oddments, leftovers, and less-than-perfect life anyway.


Poppy Cottage said...

Looks a pretty fine tree to me. Funds are not there this year for a tree so will cut down some of the twisted willow ready to take up to the cottage but some of it can have a pit stop in the lounge for a few days ( just whilst Josie is home for christmas.) a few fairy lights a a bauble or two should do it. Walk? Machine here when ever you need to use one ( your old one is still in the back of my car). Wy do cars and truncks have to be so expensive to fix???

marthaeliza said...

A lovely, sweet post. Hipsters here in Seattle would pay big bucks for your dinner in a trendy neighborhood bistro, but it would lack the homely (in the best sense of the word) comforts of you, your puppers, and Meryvn.

Tunnely said...

Beautiful sentiments in that last paragraph. My wife and I almost got a real tree for the holidays this year, but the price has really skyrocketed, due to the drought here in the midwest of America, they say. I kinda miss the smell of a pine in the house at this time of year. Mervyn looks great.

Jennifer Montero said...

Twisted willow in a galvanized bucket with lights is THE design of this Christmas, so you're on trend!

Jennifer Montero said...

I just had to try and explain to my husband what a "hipster" is. He still looks perplexed. He's never seen one. He's an unspoiled wilderness when it comes to pop culture.

Tonight we had pheasant schnitzel with celeriac mash, and your comment made me wonder if I was being accidentally trendy :)

Jennifer Montero said...

I love this time of year for the homey smells of pine, wood stoves, and cinnamon-spiced baking. That is enough Christmas to make me happy. I'm sorry the drought put paid to a tree, I hope you can find some boughs and such, to add holiday cheer.

Seester said...

I thought about getting a Christmas branch, just to have the smell of pine in the apartment. But I'm just not feeling the Christmas spirit this year. We'll have to do a Christmas in July in Maine (I assume it is always Christmassy there) when traveling is not such a b*tch and we don't have trucks (or in my case, a broken tooth) to fix.
Also, I can guarantee you that at least one of the new hipster hangouts on Valencia St. will be serving pheasant schnitzel with celeriac mash within the week. We've got a new super-bougie coffee/dessert place called Craftsman and Wolves ("hipster nonsense!" - Liz Lemon) and while there are no craftsmen nor wolves there, they do serve miniature slices of cake for $8. I bet your peasant-bred, booze-soaked fruitcake would be a huge hit. Hipsters love "authentic" food.

janice bendixen said...

Mervyn is lovely. Husband promises we will cut our tree this weekend from the 15 acres of spruce forest where we live. I will scout several options from which he will choose "the One." Jenn, your soup sounds luscious. Recipe please? Also will try the cake.

Jennifer Montero said...

Oh it takes time to find "The One", I wish you luck on your hunt.

Soup is never really a recipe, it's only a way to keep from wasting leftovers or veg that is going soft. I softened an onion in butter, added 2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms, then 2 handfuls of small cubed pumpkin (yams work great too). Add a pint or so of home made chicken stock and cook til pumpkin is soft. Whiz it in a blender and freeze soup til I realise I have nothing for dinner one night, then voila - lazy yummy meal.