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Now that the leaves of the crabapple have fallen to the ground, I have a direct view out my window to my neighbour’s old growth Norway Spruce.  She rises more than 80 feet and  towers over the houses.  Branches lifted upwards. Adorned with masses of pine-cone bling.  All embracing.  She’s one of the tree spirits living in my Beaches neighbourhood. So, no, I rarely feel the need to travel north to connect to nature.

Although it sure feels great when you finally do arrive there.

Christmas shines a moonbeam on the intrepid evergreen.  To pay homage, we come out to the world’s great public squares to worship at the foot of the Christmas tree. in NYC, people have been flocking to the lighting up of the Rockefeller tree since the 1930s.  This year’s 75-foot-high Norway Spruce at Rockefeller is almost as tall as the one I’m looking at right now through my Beaches window…but, sorry America, mine’s taller.

 This year, on a brilliant sunny day, we rejected the evergreens tightly swaddled in the grocery store parking lot and went in search of an authentic Canadian icon. Piled the kids in the van and drove north of the city in search of a tree farm, and hot chocolate and –critical ingredient —  the ironman bonfire.

We ended up at Tufford’s Trees.  A solid family place.  No pre-fab shacks selling maple fudge.  No horses pulling wagons while frothing horrible white stuff from their mouths.

We were looking for something about 10 feet tall to set down in our Canadiana room.

Something to peer into, with an intriguing interior life.  A forest within a tree.  This one is light and airy and the crooked trunk will make a splendid scratching post for Hercules.

The thought was that with the help of some silver and gold balls, hand-stitched Canadian igloos and polar bears, miniature white lights…Enough daydreaming…We sawed it down. And later discovered the painful perils of the Scotch Pine and the delights of hanging ornaments with leather gloves on.

Our friends, Helen and Nigel, needed a really, really tall tree to fill their double-height living room. And, designers that they be, they were armed with a measuring tape.  Mr. Tufford looked dubious when he was given the required dimensions.  Then he remembered the big red pine that he’s been trying to sell for years.   (By the way, Tufford plants about 400 saplings every year to keep his farm healthy.)

Here it is: Red Pine’s proof of age.  An honest look back through a lifetime of fast and slow growth. Imagine if this was how humans revealed their age.  Brutal honesty. Joan Rivers might not like it.

In this act: a family van disappears under aforementioned red pine.  Not sure this is the next generation AirStream.    But makes an excellent air freshener for any home.

Back to the Beaches, and an evening walk along the Boardwalk where 15 trees are lit up like multi-coloured extravaganzas.

The sun was sinking low into the winter sky.

That’s my version of an Illuminated Xmas Tree Manuscript.  I have to go now and plug in my lights.  Merry Christmas !!

When I see Christmas in my head, I don’t see green and red.  I prefer combinations of deep purple and electric blue.  Which is why the Moorish Palace at Tivoli (1853) in the entertainment gardens of Copenhagen gives me an extra thrill at Christmas time.

Or this season’s Christmas packaging at  LeNôtre fine foods in Paris, where the glossy paper bags are mini works of art and the tea comes in hot pink tins.

Inspired by the season of rich tones, I recovered our Danish teak couch (originally upholstered in a boring oatmeal colour) in a deep purple.   Velvet seemed the only option.  What do you think???

  Actually, because the velvet shifts from purple to burgundy to pink depending on the sun and the way the plush moves, I’ve decided to rename it our Mark Rothko couch.

 

Nobody does deep purple and electric blue like the great American painter Mark Rothko.  Possibly Henri Matisse, but not with the kind of endless meanings floating out from abstraction.  I just saw a fantastic play in Toronto about Rothko called Red.  There was paint flying, and clouds of pigment when the passion of making art went sky high.  Whenever I’m in Washington my first pilgrimage is to the East Building at the National Gallery to see the colour-drenched Rothko’s hovering there.  Luckily, I have a Rothko right here at home.  It’s a fridge magnet. I think I got it for Christmas.

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