Well, our tree is officially up this year! I was feeling stressed, wondering in the whirlwind that is our life right now- when would we find the time to put one up? But we did. One block I had was wondering where we were going to put it. We couldn't have it too close to the woodstove (which is conveniently blocked off with a long gate), but our living room is a place for regularly playing toddler boys, so I didn't really want it where it could get bumped into either. Then Jeff had a great idea. He has an old wooden table that's in the corner of the room, with a leaf that folds out to make it bigger. As soon as he suggested the location, I was really excited. We found the perfect size Christmas tree for us. (Maybe around Bracken's height?) This year is actually a pretty big tree for us. Most years we've gotten tiny potted trees and most of them could barely hold any ornaments. One year Jeff and I got a big tree, but only once. Small trees are our norm. This year we were excited to have a tree that could actually hold up all of our ornaments! We didn't know if our Christmas tree stand would work for a tree that small, but it did. We listened to Christmas music (on Pandora radio) and we wrapped the tree in lights and I pulled out our box of ornaments. It's always fun pulling those out once a year and being filled with memories. I think my favorite ornament will always be a little wooden heart that my sister gave me when we were little. She made it with our Grandpa Baker in his woodshop and wrote with pencil in her sweet child's handwriting: Merry Christmas! Love, Sam. Every year when I pull it out, it makes me smile even more than any of the others. It feels special and sweet to me. There are other favorites of course, but that one will always be near and dear to my heart. This is the first year that Bracken has been involved in decorating the tree. Having it up on a table is nice in that it's out of the way, but he can still reach the lower branches and hang ornaments on them. He can touch the stockings and the decorations around the tree, but it's still safe from rough and tumble boys playing around. When we come down in the mornings he says "Yay!" and points to it. He really loves it and seeing the joy in his eyes makes Jeff and I so happy. He told his Grandma Julie all about it over the phone. It's in a corner, right by our coat rack, but no matter what's in the area around it, it makes the place feel magical. I pulled out our stockings this year and we even decided to have a stocking for our chickens. (It's okay, you can laugh, I think it's funny too.) I want to put some special treats in there for them.
There's just something so magical about a lit up tree in the darkness of this season, isn't there? Every time I look at it, especially at night, it fills me with a warm feeling. When we walk in the living room we can smell the delicious scent of pine. Something about looking at our Christmas tree makes me relax and breathe deeper. And it always reminds me of all the times my mom woke up my sister and I before school and would let us lay on the couch, watching the lights of the tree with eyes half closed, to gently wake up for the day. That was a fun tradition we did each year and those little lights filled me with pure wonder.
Now I get to see that wonder in Bracken and what a joy that truly is.
This is a picture of our drive to Holiday Market on Saturday morning. It snowed for most of the day on Friday. On Friday afternoon I asked Jeff what he thought about taking a trip to the post office (about three miles away) so we could mail out some orders (and not have to worry about mailing them out on Saturday morning.) He was unsure about the roads, but we decided to go. The drive was a little nerve wracking and we slid a few times. We barely made it up our driveway on the way back up. Jeff went and shoveled parts of the driveway to make it better for the next morning, even though he wasn't feeling completely better yet. We figured that the next day's drive would be better because we would be driving on a main highway. It wasn't. Saturday morning we were surprised to see the highway had not been cleared nearly as much as we were expecting. Our typically one hour drive turned into a two hour drive. Jeff is a really good driver and I feel safer riding with him than with anyone. He drove slow. Luckily, we had left early just in case.
We thought 'well, surely the roads will be better once we get to town.' They weren't. Someone told us that there are only 12 plows for the whole city of Eugene. We were surprised, even the main roads weren't clear. I didn't think that driving in the snow was a big deal, I grew up in Iowa after all. You drive in the snow all winter long because there is snow all winter long. But in Iowa the plows are constantly clearing the roads and people are prepared for snow. I remember living in Portland and being amazed that everything shut down when it snowed there. Schools canceled, businesses closed. Coming from the snowy Midwest, I thought it was kind of funny. In western Oregon it's a whole different story when it snows.
We finally got to the Holiday Market and got our things set up in our booth. Quite a few vendors and food booths didn't show up. There were a lot less people than usual that day. We were asking about weather forecasts and trying to figure out a plan of action for that night. Many generous friends invited us to stay with them in town for the night, but we didn't want to leave our chickens for long. (It's a good thing we didn't. The nice warm water Jeff had for them in their coop was completely frozen when we got home.) We didn't want to get stuck away from home if the roads were going to get worse. All the cars were driving on the snow and packing it down. We were afraid the roads would turn to ice. At one point in the day I thought, 'I better trust my intuition on this one' and then wondered 'what should we do?' My feeling said: 'Get home.' Jeff had the same feeling. We decided to leave the market early that day, instead of the usual 6. We thought the roads might turn to ice when it got dark. The wonderful market staff was really understanding about it, they had been surprised we had even showed up that day. Bracken fell asleep in the car. Jeff had a strong feeling to make a stop before we left town and get chains on our tires. (We had looked into buying studded tires before, but they were out of our price range.)
Bracken asleep in the back seat while they put the chains on our two front tires.
We were told that the maximum speed you can drive when you have chains on your tires is 25 mph. So we drove 25 mph on the highway towards home. It took us forever to get back home. I had prayed Bracken would sleep the whole drive, but he woke up. He wasn't happy to still be in the car and let us know it. It was the longest drive from Eugene we've ever had. And yes, there was ice. We never would have made it up our driveway (and possibly a few other spots) without those chains. I was so grateful Jeff had the thought to get chains on our tires. The next day, Sunday, we heard that the roads were worse. Another drive at 25 mph with even worse roads? Nope. We decided not to go to market that day. It was a huge relief not to worry about driving in those conditions. We spent the day working. And of course Bracken wanted to go outside and play in the snow.
Showing me his treasures.
He wanted to bring out his cardboard box again, only this time he filled it with his icicle collection.
The chickens looked out from their coop window, wondering about all that white stuff outside.
Bracken and I went out in the garden, wondering if they would follow us out there. Our chicken, Daffodil, did follow us. She hung out on the edge of a wooden garden bed and didn't want to walk in the snow.
We didn't gather eggs on Saturday night, so Sunday we happily gathered our eggs. The darkest brown egg is from our Wellsummer chickens. We love those dark colored eggs!
Honey didn't seem shy about the snow at all.
Snowy Buddha statue by the front pond.
Little frozen pond (that Jeff built years ago.)
Adding to his icicle collection. This one had little bits of rosemary in it.
Icicle hanging from the gutter.
I meant to write this post yesterday, but it didn't happen. I'll be skipping the YarnAlong this week, but that just means I'll have more knitting goodness to share for next week. We went to the post office and the roads are getting clearer, thank goodness. The chains have been removed from our tires. It will be nice to have them on hand if we need them again, but we're hoping we won't have any use for them until Holiday Market is over!