Monday, December 10, 2007


Choosing a Christmas Tree

Robert Kimber, Upcountry: Reflections from a Rural Life (1991; rpt. Camden: Down East Books, 2005), pp. 159-160:
The woods are impressing on us once again the lesson they have taught us year after year: Nature abhors the perfect Christmas tree, and—now that I think about it—so do I. What ever made me think I wanted one of those flawlessly symmetrical cone-shaped things in the first place? The perfect Christmas tree is a horticultural artifact, an artifice, a hoax, a put-up job, a plantation product bred of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and years of artful shearing and clipping that would put a prize Poodle to shame. It is an example of man trying to make nature imitate industry, a design taken from a solid-geometry textbook and infinitely reproduceable in plastic: it's life in Lego Land.

On our woodlot, by contrast, our trees are shaped by the vagaries of shade, sun, and wind; of ice storms and sodden snows; of aphids and mites; of drought and deluge; of the thousand natural shocks that trees are heir to. It is those incalculable forces that account for all our lopsided, snaggletoothed, brown-needled, potbellied, wimpy-topped firs and spruce, trees that invite us to spend a few hours browsing among them, looking closely at their endless variety and eccentricity, enjoying the ones we leave every bit as much as—if not more than—the one we take home.
Franklin Stanwood (1852-1888), Mount Lafayette

By extension, this lesson applies to choosing other things, too.

Related post: Apples and Oranges.

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