The Gift (A serial, part 7)

The Gift (A serial, part 7)
” Let’s add the tinsel. It adds glitter to a tree,” he told the birds.
“We have to hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the bird nest that is in the top branches near the trunk.”
Morty placed an ornament into the nest. As they hung the strands they continued to hum Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, They stood back and admired their creation. It was Morty’s gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty switched on the lights, and Connie came to
life.
“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.” Morty said to rabbit,  “cover the tree stand to add the final touch.”
The next job was to assemble the nativity scene in a special place. Morty picked a small table right next to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be where he, and all of his friends would easily see it. He cleaned the table, and covered it with his best tablecloth. Lovingly, he placed the stable, and the figures into position on the table. He handled each figure with special care and gentleness. The nativity was complete when Morty put the last lamb near a kneeling shepherd.

To be continued . . . .

The Gift (A serial, part 5)

The Gift (A serial, Part 5)

The scoot home took a long time because the Covert farm was a long way from the town where Morty lived. He deliberately kept Skye out of hyper-drive, and drove slowly to keep the little tree from tearing off. They talked as he drove. Connie told him about when he was a seed, and grew quickly into a sapling. Farmer Jim re-planted him into the field where his great, great, great, great-grandfather grew up. He survived a drought, the heat of summer, and cold winters. When it snowed, his limbs sagged to the ground.

Connie’s favorite job was to host families of birds. The cardinals and chickadees picked his boughs to build their nests. They collected material from all over the farm. Red Cardinal, and his wife Rosy made hundreds of trips to the tree. Red brought pieces thread, and tiny twigs, one by one, and Rosy wove them into place. She went to the pond to make mud to hold it all together. They picked a spot about half way up Connie’s trunk in a spot that hid the nest from view.

Connie told Morty how he loved to watch the cardinals flying back and forth to feed their babies. The babies slept between meals. They chirped loudly when their parents came with food. Once a cat came into the field near Connie. Rosy covered the nest with her body, and spread her wings to hide her chicks.

Red buzzed the cat to get its attention away from the babies. Connie dropped his boughs over the nest to give the birds more protection. They all sat very still while the cat was there. All the trees in the field watched in deadly silence as the cat stalked with his head low, and his shoulders in a hunting crouch. After what seemed like an eternity of stillness and quiet, the cat finally wandered off in another direction.

Morty arrived home after dark. He untied Connie’s branches and set him upright into a bucket of water.

“Tomorrow,” he said, “I will place you into a tree stand, and dress you for the birthday party. Now it is time for all of us to rest.”

To be continued. . . .

The Gift (A serial, part 4)

THE GIFT (A serial, part 4)

Morty cut down the beautiful spruce, with the empty birds’ nest, and found the spot where the rabbit used to stay warm.

“Well, Mr. Rabbit,” he said, “come home with me. I’ll keep you warm.” The rabbit jumped out from under another tree and said,

“Will you take care of me the way Connie did?”

“Yes,” said Morty, “come with me.” Then the cardinal and the sparrow, and the chickadee all flew around his head.

“Will you take care of us too?”

“Sure!” said Morty, “come with me we are going to have a great time.”

Morty pulled Connie through the grove to where farmer Jim would find them. He began to wonder about how he would get the tree home on his scooter. Although Connie is a little tree he is as tall as Morty, and his branches spread out much wider than Morty. Just then, Farmer Jim came by with the wagon and picked them up. Farmer Jim told Morty not to worry because he would help tie the tree to his scooter.

In the shed, next to the barn, Farmer Jim placed Connie into his wrapping machine. The machine wrapped cord around the tree branches, pulling them tightly into the trunk. When the farmer finished wrapping him, Connie was much thinner than before.

Morty carried Connie to his scooter but could not figure out how to load him on the scooter. The trunk on the scooter was only big enough to hold a picnic lunch and some tools, so Connie could not ride in the trunk. Before Farmer Jim came out of the barn to help, Morty placed the tree against the side of the scooter. The side of the scooter was smooth, and nothing was sticking out to hold the rope. Next, Morty put him on the seat. He fit nicely lying along the top and hanging over the end of the scooter, but Morty would have to sit on top of him to drive.

Morty did not like that, so he tried holding Connie upright between his legs and arms as he sat on the scooter. This was even worse because he could not see with the tree in his face.

In the end, Farmer Jim tied the tree to the seat,

and Morty sat on it. The bunny jumped on and huddled by his feet, and the birds all perched on the branches. Connie hummed the tune to Happy Birthday as they took off.

To be continued , , , ,

The Gift (A serial, part three)

THE GIFT (A serial, part three)

The little tree answered, “My name is Connie, short for Coniferous. How can I be so special? My work is to provide a house for the birds, and to shelter the rabbit that sleeps under my boughs. This past summer I had three families of birds living in my branches. What will they do without me to provide for them?”

“The Boss will take care of them,” said Morty, “besides, the many trees of the forest will help them. It is a great honor to do something special for Jesus’ birthday. Then, after Christmas is over, I will use your branches to warm my house. Please do it.”

Connie hesitated a bit and said, “If I choose to accept, then I am giving myself totally to the Baby Jesus. I will live only as long as the sap within my branches will support my needles.”

“I realize that,” said Morty, “that’s why I picked you. You are magnificent and when I am finished dressing you, I know you will please Jesus, and make him smile. I will have my friends string popcorn beads, painted pine cones, icicles, and snowflakes on your branches. I will lay strings of colorful lights on your boughs. Near the lights, I will hang crystal ornaments to reflect the light onto the needles of your branches. On your top stem, I will place a crystal star. You will look stunning. I’ll play Christmas carols and sing while I’m decorating so we can get into the spirit of Christmas.”

Connie agreed that pleasing Jesus on his day was important. He knew that Christmas day was special. This was his chance to do something he could not do if he remained in the forest and grew up for the wood mill harvest. Finally, Connie said,
“It will be an honor to be your gift to Jesus.

To be continued . . . .

The Gift (A serial, part 2)

THE GIFT (A serial, part 2)

Farmer Jim drove the tractor, and Morty sat on the trailer. When they reached the field Morty jumped off. With a saw in his hand he began to search for the perfect tree.

He wanted a shapely tree with branches all around. It could not be too big because his room was small. Morty wandered among the trees searching. Most were already five to six feet high or taller. Many had bare spots and deformed branches. With so many trees picking one was not easy. On the way to the farm, when he flew over the trees on his scooter, they all looked beautiful, but at ground level, they did not look as perfect.

Morty began asking the trees for help. “Please help me find the tree I need,” he said. “I want it to be as tall as I am. It must not be too wide. My tree will have a triangular shape, and full branches all around.” The trees responded by saying they were once exactly like that, two or three years ago.

After searching the forest for a long time, Morty stopped in front of a very tall tree.

The high tree said that he could see over the tops of all the other trees, and could see the tree that Morty wanted. “Follow this line of trees next to me,” the big tree said, “count off twenty trees, turn left, then count another five trees. There, in the center of a small clearing will be the perfect tree.”

“Thanks,” said Morty. He took the tall tree’s directions, and counted the trees as he walked. When he reached number twenty, he turned left and counted five more. There, in the center of a small clearing stood a beautiful spruce tree.

It was blue-green, and perfect. Morty stopped and stood still. He was speechless. He walked around the tree, looking for bare spots. He found none. It was as tall as he was too. The shape was a near-perfect cone. As he walked around the tree, he began talking to himself, “This tree will make a perfect present for my boss’s birthday party.” He admired the tree from all angles and could not find a single flaw. He finally broke his silence and spoke. “I’m Morty Angel, would you like to be my gift to Baby Jesus this year?”

To be continued . . .

The Gift (A serial, part one)

The Covert tree farm stretches across the countryside with pine trees of all sizes. Morty Angel can tell the age of the trees by how tall they are. The trees along the road to the entrance are a good example. Field number one has twelve foot trees. Next, is a field of ten’s then a field eight’s. Occasionally, a field was bare with only stumps protruding from the ground.

Morty came to the sign Covert Tree Farm, Christmas Trees for Sale,next to a road that led into a grove of very old spruce trees.

The tall trees shaded the forest floor, and kept it dark. The driveway was curvy, and made from gravel. Morty could hear birds flitting between trees. Beams of sunshine peeked through the trees. They looked like spotlights shining through onto the dark forest floor. Very little vegetation grew, except ferns; they require little light to survive. Morty steered his Skye Scooter through the forest over the twisty road. He was anxious to find a tree that would serve as his gift to the Boss. He saw an opening of intense light that led into a glorious meadow. This is where the tree farmer lived in a log home.

Another sign announced that parking was in the field behind the barn. A sign on the barn stated rules for cutting Christmas trees.

Rule One: Cut the tree at the ground. Do not cut in the middle of a tree.

Rule two: Use only the saw provided.

Rule Three: Bring your tree to the barn for wrapping.

Prices are $8.00 per foot.

Next to the barn, a tractor hitched to a hay wagon was running and ready to carry visitors to the cutting field. A cow mooed, and a horse whinnied from inside the barn. Chickens wandered freely around the horse and cow in the stalls, and in the barnyard pecking for seed. All around the barnyard meadow, there were trees and hills for as far as one can see.

Farmer Jim lives on the tree farm. He raises trees for a living. He sells some trees to visitors at Christmas, and he takes the very large trees to the lumber mill in the town. Farmer Jim always plants replacement trees after cutting a field. In this way, the forest continues to refresh itself. It takes forty to fifty years to grow a tree large enough to sell for lumber. It only takes ten to twelve years to grow a tree large enough for Christmas.

Morty loved scooting out to the Covert Tree farm. It is a beautiful place, peaceful, quiet, and majestic. Morty also loved to talk to the trees. When he was alone in the forest, he would hug the large ones. Farmer Jim never told anyone, but he had one very large field of old trees on his farm. He never cut these trees nor did his father, grandfather or his great-grandfather. Farmer Jim’s great-grandfather told him that the trees in this field were on the farm when he bought it. The trees in that field were very big and old. Some were more than two hundred feet tall, and the trunks were so large that the farmer could not stretch his arms around the base. Morty really loved these trees. The largest tree was several hundred years old. It lived through much of the history of our country. The big tree was a teenager when the very first settlers moved to the valley from the east.

Today, Morty came to the tree farm because he wants to surprise the baby Jesus on his birthday with a spruce tree. Morty will decorate the tree to make it special. He parked his scooter behind the barn, read the rules, picked up a saw, and rode out to the field of trees on the hay wagon.

To be continued….

Eat Greasy Food Off Dirty Dishes

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerMy grandfather knew how to live. Granted, he was a hermit, but he knew how to manage on a very small pension. My recollection of him dates back to when I was ten, he was seventy-two. He was living on a small farm in southwest Michigan. His house was small and without plumbing. It did have electricity and hand pumped water in the kitchen. Gramp’s pension came from working in a coal mine when he was younger. The pension wasn’t very much, perhaps thirty dollars a month. Somehow he managed to live on that amount. He smoked Camels, and drank an occassional bottle of beer. I never knew him to work. My earliest recollection of him does not include work at a job. He was already sixty-two when I was born, so he was near retirement then. When he did retire, there was no social security, only his meager pension from the mine.

Gramps lived on a farm, but I never saw him plant anything. My mother always planted the garden. She also raised the chickens, pigs, cow, and a horse. Gramps just supervised.

Grampa Jim got the Hungarian language newspaper in the mail every week. His job was to read every issue of the paper from cover to cover. Most of the news in his paper was old, but it didn’t matter, he read the paper faithfully. He was a great socializer. Once or twice a week his friend John picked him up in a model T, around three o’clock in the afternoon. Together they rode a quarter mile to the corner store. This store was special. The store sold gasoline, kerosene, groceries, and had a beer hall too.  Come to think of it, it wasn’t much different from today’s gas stations. Only the beer hall is different. Gramp’s buddy parked at the pump and self served himself a gallon or two of 15 cent gas. Then they went in to pay and to have beer. The two of them sat in the beer hall talking over events. Nine times out of ten, Gramps outlasted his buddy.  Gramps had more than a half bottle of beer remaining when his buddy went dry. John had a wife so he beat it back home before she missed him. That left Gramps alone with his beer.  He wasn’t alone for long, because more customers came to the store, they checked to see if anyone was sitting in the beer hall. Soon, gramps had another party to chat with. He had company non-stop throughout the time he sat in the beer hall. Every one knew him, and loved to talk to him. Meanwhile his beer got flatter and flatter and flatter. Eventually, the bottle was empty.

On many days, gramps didn’t get home until after nine o’clock. By that time we were all in bed, and the house was dark except for the kitchen. Mom was still up doing chores while she waited for him.

When summer ended we returned to the city to start school.  Gramps was free again living his simple life on the farm. He did have to cook for himself after Mom left. I don’t think he ever washed a dish, only rinsed them off. He had a single change of clothes which he wore until even he couldn’t stand it anymore.

Gramps loved the solitary life, but was always happy to see us come for a visit. He was equally glad to see us go home. When he got older, Mom convinced him to come into the city for the winter. He did, but by March he disappeared back to the farm where everyone in the township knew him, yet he could be alone when he wanted to. He could wear the same clothes for as long as he wanted, and eat greasy foods off of dirty  dishes. He enjoyed the sights, sounds, and scents of his farm and nature.

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