Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 31
It got a tad nippy last night: -10 at Eight Acre Wood, and I had a report of a loon frozen in Fourth Lake this morning. I told the lady we would wait and see what the quick thaw and rain brings and see if the loon is smart enough to get out on its own. If not, I will try and get it and take it to open water.
It's getting close to Christmas, but there’s still time to get a tree. I’ve heard some even put them up on Christmas eve. We never did that, but sometimes it would be taken down even before the New Year. So, I have a few Christmas Tree stories, so cover the kids ears because sometimes words were used that they shouldn’t hear.
The first one happened when I was just a wee lad in West Milton, not far from Ballston Spa. We used to collect running pine, some called it ground cedar, and we would make it into wreaths for the door. We even got into selling some one year. We used to bag it in burlap grain bags, bring it home and put it on wire hoops, just like they do with the balsam that is mostly used today. While we were out collecting the running pine, I found a nice balsam tree that I had been watching for a couple years now. It was growing in the open, so it had filled out very nicely. Balsams were rare in our neck of the woods and I told mom I was going to cut it down for our tree. About this time of the year, I went out with my trusty bow saw to harvest this tree. There was a little snow on the ground, so dragging it on my sled about a mile home wouldn’t be a problem. When I got to the spot, the tree was gone with drag marks across the field. Someone else had been watching this tree also. When we went to our little church down the road on Sunday, there was my tree, all decorated up in the front of the church. I found out that Steve Barns and another older gentleman who took care of our little church, had gotten the tree. It looked good just where it was in the front of the church. Steve was the bell ringer for the church on Sundays, and when I told him my story, he let me ring the bell the next Sunday. Growing up in a rural little town was neat.
Up here for more than fifty years, there have been several Christmas Tree adventures. Many locals said they would shoot the top out of a balsam with their rifle for their tree. I had never seen it done, but heard lots of stories. How many shots it took, I was never told. Others would cut down a big tree and harvest just the top. As for me, I would climb up the tree, bow saw in hand, and harvest just the top. Its best if you have rope to lower this top to the ground because if you just let it fall, the tree would land on its top and break it off almost always, which sometimes lead to some choice words when I got back down the tree. I’ve come home with some that the family called Charlie Brown trees, which meant we would put the barest side to the corner. Sometimes it called for a second tree or even a store-bought one.
Just yesterday we went on a Christmas Tree trip to Trenton Trees in Prospect, not far off 365 East from Route 12, just follow the green tree signs to the right, just past the railroad bridge. Lots of trees to choose from for $45 or cut your own for $40, which is what we did. They trim your trunk, shake off the snow and wrap in plastic mesh. There were lots of folks getting their own trees and a couple black labs helping everyone out. I had on my trapping clothes, so they had a special interest in me.
Speaking about trapping, just last week, I was catching a few beavers and it was so cold I would bring them out on my mini toboggan, rather than skin them in the woods. One day I got two beavers: a two- year-old, which I put in my pack, and an adult, which I put on the toboggan. There is a long hill coming out on the snowmobile trail, which I just let the beaver ride down alone. It got to zipping right along and went right around the corner out of sight. I just hoped no one was walking the trail and saw the beaver go whizzing by having a great ride.
Snowmobile trails open tomorrow, so let’s use some caution this year and not repeat all the accidents that occurred last year. Rain may dampen some riders and its going to get zippy cold mid-week, then rain again predicted for Shoot Out day on Saturday, 12/14.
Let’s not be like the loon out in the open waters of Fourth Lake on your snowmobile, so wait for safe ice, but that’s another story. See ya.