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Tree Exchange

Shortly after we moved to Hotchkiss, a good friend had a great idea. She said we should plant a tree on the property and take a picture every year with the kids in front of it. Year over year, the growth of our kids and our tree would be marked, the height of each measured annually. We loved the idea, and came away from the local arborist in September with a crab apple tree. We pulverized the stump of an old tree on the front of our lawn with a heavy bar, dug a pit and placed our new roots in the ground. We covered it with mulch from the neighbor's saw mill. Here stand the four with roots newly planted.

As I write this, Christmas is only 1 month away. I held back the tide of "Christmas Spirit" in our house until after Thanksgiving was over again this year (just barely), and then helped hang lights and stand up the tree. Our fake tree with the lights baked in from Home Depot, which we have used for going on 6 years, had a worn cord that finally tore loose at the plug. Luckily, I had been eyeing Christmas trees on the Grand Mesa earlier this year on several scouting trips, and Ace Hardware in Hotchkiss had $8 tree cutting permits. We loaded up on Sunday afternoon and went looking for a new Christmas tree and found this one down by a high mountain creek. I brought a rope.

In anticipation of dragging a giant evergreen many miles over forbidding mountainous terrain, I practiced tying a chest rig in the mirror before we left, and mentally prepped the kids for what would surely be an arduous tree extraction. Gabriel wore a tactical chest rig from my Army kit bag loaded with nerf bullets, a fake grenade and a Gerber tool (without a saw somehow) in anticipation of the approaching field problem. I envisioned and foretold of winter water crossings, prowling predators, potential blizzards, thoughts of cannabalism... but Christmas prevailed, and gave us a tree within 200 yards of the truck, weighing about 20 pounds on the horizontal heft. We carried it back to the truck pretty effortlessly and then went and poked at the frozen water's edge for a while.

The scorching heat we arrived in this summer is long past. The crab apple tree we planted has dropped it's leaves and it's roots lie dormant in the new piled soil, waiting for spring warmth. The one we cut sits stood upright in a small stand of water, probably not yet aware it has been sawed from the soil and that soon it will lose its evergreen. It is decorated and lit with lights. We hope one will grow with our kids, the other we hope will hold it's needles until Christmas day. A tree for a tree.

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