For me, our annual Getting-The-Holiday-Tree outing is a ritual and coming at the end of the calendar as it does, the past twelve months are a natural topic for conversation. Trudging through the snow we talk of the year, what we hoped it would bring and what it actually brought, in-between short debates over tree height, limb density, and the intensity of green as we encounter various candidates to hang our lights from. Inevitably the two, the hunt and the discussion, run together and, abruptly, they end together. Intertwined and interdependent. Capturing our holiday tree brings an end to the past while also bringing it into focus.
Looking back on 2015 I see a lot of National Parks, fourteen in fact, visited between the two of us on our various outings. I remember many faces, old and new, in and out of work and, remarkably, I can't think of any I didn't like. I saw the joy of seeing mountain goats spar, or of watching waterfalls fall, or of spectacular views in the faces of those accompanying me. I listened to birds sing, coyotes howl and new friends speak of their lives. I drank of mountain streams, ate snap peas from my garden vines, laid on the living room floor with my pets and enjoyed as much time as I could find with my best friend, Eve. Not a bad year as years go.
Discussion of the future begins once the tree is on the car heading for it's new purpose in our holiday. Decorating while making plans, this ornament goes here and "what do you think of setting a few days aside in July for...?" The two are a natural fit, holding hands in our life.
Out of that hand holding came plans for a week long backpack in Tasmania and a ten day outing circumnavigating the base of Mt Rainier. We'll spend time in Eureka Montana where we'll retire someday, and Eve's always wanted to see New England's fall colors, perhaps this year. Of course there's our guided trips with old and new friends exploring wonderful places we can't get enough of.
Then there will be another gathering of a tree ...