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Another Harebrained Scheme

Last year I had a bit of a meltdown before Christmas, as I discovered my favorite tree lot was completely empty and shut down. I say “favorite,” but in truth even though it’s lovely, it is the only tree lot in town. You can find trees at a couple of hardware and grocery stores but the selection is poor.

Although I usually like the look of artificial trees in people’s homes, the ones I see for sale seem to me a bit cheesy. Several I’ve seen boast a combination of styles, i.e. one tree will have both Scotch pine type needles and balsam. Why? Cheesy. I’ve also looked around online for some kind of alternative tree that I could buy or make. I found some pretty cool ones but either too expensive or I couldn’t imagine making them.

I love sycamore trees, particularly the beautiful patterns left on the branches and trunk as the thin bark peels away. I often carry pretty branches home from Grindstone Nature Area. So I thought, why not make my own tree from sycamore branches? (Thus, my latest harebrained scheme.) I began collecting more seriously. Right near that stand of four sycamores along the creek trail, a big branch had fallen. Yes! My son, Oliver, and I went out there, cut it into large pieces and hauled them home. Now that my holiday shows are behind me, I’ve been working on it in earnest.

It has been a bit of a struggle. Well, it was very hard. The curvy branches, which I love, do not lend themselves to being attached to each other by a human. The thing went through many iterations, none of which (including the end result) are at all like what I had in mind. I went to bed a couple of nights thinking it was terrible, ridiculous! Yet I went right back to it each morning. I believe that working on it on the damp concrete outside my basement door on a wet day has caused my mold allergy to kick up a notch or two. The sneezing!! I have a painful crick in my neck from sawing. I was on my hands and knees. My hips cry out.

The finished tree, with lights and ornaments!

Nevertheless, I have created something unique and possibly cool. I’ve purchased clear lights on white wire to string around the trunk. Perhaps I’ll find some boughs of greens to put on. I don’t quite know how I’ll hang ornaments on it, but maybe that’s okay. We’ll see if it stands the test of time, i.e. whether I like it tomorrow, a week from now, and/or next Christmas.

I tried. It won’t win any prizes but it certainly is unique! I worked very hard on a creative project that is completely out of my skill set, using inferior tools (a miter box saw) and lacking something even as handy as a sawhorse. The work on it was stimulating. The problem solving was good for my brain. And Oliver drilled holes and helped me figure things out, so that made it fun. There’s never any harm in trying a thing, right?

“There are five important things for living a successful and fulfilling life: never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning.” ― Roy Bennett

“A person who tries has an advantage over the person who wishes.”

― Utibe Samuel Mbom

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems on my here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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