Making Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving.
A tradition steeped in pine pitch
Over last weekend I took part in something that's become a bit of a Thanksgiving tradition during the seasonal get together at my paternal grandparent's house - harvesting Christmas trees. You see, Grandpa Carlson has been raising balsam on his back 40 for probably 20 years now, and as it turns out, he's got more trees in their prime than he can handle on his own. After all, the process of cutting, trimming, displaying, and selling each tree begins to add up quickly when you're moving several hundred of them in a month.
The plan was to arrive early on Friday morning with saws and shears in hand. However, the previous night's snowstorm kept my brothers, sister, and I at home until late morning and the roads were clear of ice and snow. By the time we arrived in Nekoosa, it was almost mid-day and the older generation had already put in a full first shift.
As we pulled up to the house, we were greeted by rows, piles, and stands of freshly cut, eight-foot tall balsam firs strewn about the yard. The piles seemed to stretch on as far as the eye could see - an endless terrain of raw Christmas product, still seeping fresh pine pitch into the chilly November sunrays.
Beyond the bountiful harvest, I could see Grandpa's truck and trailer returning from the field with another load. By the time I walked out to them, my dad and two of my uncles had already parked on the edge of the ever-expanding drop zone and began unloading the Christmas cornerstones one by one.
They tossed the trees over the edge of the trailer, rolled them over the grass, and repeated the grunting display of brawn until the truck and trailer were depleted; brow wiping ensued.