Friday, 13 December 2013


In June, 1966, the summer preceding my first year at university, ( My fragile ego begs you not to do the math; it is quite startling. ), I secured a summer job with the then-called Department of Lands and Forests .......Timber Branch, to be exact.  Amusing name, but true! This rewarding job was to thankfully be mine throughout the summers of my university years. My boss, Doug Drysdale, was and still is an extremely intelligent and knowledgeable man, holding a PHD in forestry economics. Doug's family owned then and still owns Drysdale Tree Farms, the massive main operation in Cookstown, with their secondary site in Ballantrae.

My Mother and Father would be first to begin the tradition when in 1966, instead of purchasing from a lot, they journeyed to Drysdale's to cut down our family Christmas tree.  After marrying in 1969, Jim and I adopted the tradition, cutting our annual tree down at the Ballantrae farm,  first as a married couple, then with our children and now with our grandchildren. Forty-four delightful years of breathing in the heady pine fragrance of the farm, slogging through snow drifts singing and joking, shaking snow from trees to evaluate shape and size, laughing with great hilarity as Jim and now also Matt with saws in hand must crawl under the chosen tree, yelling "timber!!!", dragging our treasured prizes back to the baler, savouring hot chocolate around the giant bonfire, and best of all, receiving warm greetings and hugs for all three generations from a now retired, Doug.

Brunch at the Locketts traditionally follows. What began as Jim and I, Chris and Matt with good friends, Richard and Meredith and their boys, has blossomed into a fully fledged extended family day with aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and dear friends. I freely admit that I enjoy this day with its rosy cheeks, percolating anticipation and relaxed atmosphere as much as I enjoy Christmas.

Sadly, this will be the final winter season for Drysdale's Ballantrae Christmas Tree Farm. Doug and his family have generously donated the 136-acre property to York Region Forest to use for a trail system. They will concentrate efforts on their giant Cookstown operation. Will we continue to cut down a tree? Absolutely! We will find another local Christmas Tree Farm, but no matter how lovely, it won't be Drysdale's Ballantrae with all of the surroundings we have so grown to love. 

And so why do I beseech Mother Nature?  Go figure! She is scheduled to sweep through on Saturday and early Sunday leaving in her wake, our first major snow storm and a massive dump of the white stuff. Dear Mother Nature, please don't get carried away. Please no repeat of what you just did to poor old Calgary. Please just leave us with enough snow that we can still trudge through our tree farm, enough snow that brunch guests can safely make it to our home. Dear Mother Nature, please allow us number forty-five and our final trip to Drysdale's. I beseech you!

No comments:

Post a Comment