jul (tre)

Last night we had a most surreal experience. Late in the evening (after the practical things taken care of -- supper leftovers put away, fire stoked, baby changed and fed and put to bed in a neighbors care) Martin and I headed a few kilometers to a friend's farm, who lives high on a bluff surrounded by forest, in a former summer home built by a wealthy and long-dead Swedish noble. Our purpose: Christmas tree hunting.

All over Sweden right now (northern Europe, really) it's cold. Last night about -20 and a full moon. The sky was a deep silver-blue and with thigh-deep snow on the ground it was so bright we could walk on our Christmas tree hunt without the aid of flashlight. In places where the moon shone through the open spaces it was as bright and huge as a celestial street lamp. In the moonlight the deciduous trees (covered in thick hoar frost) were a million tiny glittering crystals. (I promise I am not poetically exaggerating.) The fir and pine trees, covered with so much snow their limbs were bent parallel with their trunks, were wreathed in great tubes and gobs and mounds of snow. They ended up appearing to be giant soft-serve ice cream cones rather than trees.

It was so beautiful and other-worldly I couldn't concentrate on where we were going and kept walking off our trail into the deep snow, filling the tops of my boots and jeans and laughing like a kid. If there was something to restore the magical wonder of Christmas it was that tree hunt.

We found our small pine not too far off the trail, dug it out of the snow, cut it and stuffed it the back of our Toyota. We brought it home and Martin left it standing in the washroom to warm up and drop the ice and snow.

The magic of the night returned instantly this morning when I walked into the bathroom to find it filled with the scent of pine and our little tree standing awkwardly in the bathtub.