By Pat Nelson / South County NewsWednesday, December 5, 2007
Reprinted by permission, The Daily News/South County News, Longview, WAThere was snow in the hills around Woodland and more predicted when the Woodland Moose Lodge kicked off its tree-selling season on Friday, Nov. 30.Feeling the chill in the air and seeing the tall, straight Noble fir trees standing in the lot at 1512 N. Goerig, I began to feel the Christmas spirit.Next door, a sign on Don’s Donut Depot advertised homemade ice cream, but I suspect tree shoppers will buy more hot drinks than ice cream from the Donut Depot and the nearby espresso stand.As I drove up to the tree lot, three Moose lodge members were busy building a stand to hold a sign and inflatable decorations. A gazebo provided shelter from the predicted snow and rain, and a warm fire blazed in a washing-machine tub turned outdoor fireplace.I asked volunteer Jim Nelson how long the Moose Lodge has been operating a Christmas tree lot. “This is our fourth year,” he replied. Volunteer, Jack Lester, said that the 6- to 7-foot noble fir trees sell for $40 and the 10- to 12-foot trees sell for $60, but there also will be tabletop trees.Noble fir trees are deep green, with nice branch shape and good spacing between branches, making for easy decorating. Though their four-sided, 1-inch needles are bluish-green, the trees often have a silver appearance.In the forest, they can grow to more than 200 feet tall, but the ones we see on Christmas tree lots were raised on Christmas tree farms. It is estimated that 25 percent to 30 percent of the fresh-cut Christmas trees sold in the Pacific Northwest are noble fir. Nobles also are used in making wreaths, swags and holiday centerpieces.Noble fir trees are popular as Christmas trees for both their beauty and their ability to last throughout the holiday season. Ray Alderman, another volunteer for the Moose Lodge, told me the trees can last until New Year’s, but if there is a woodstove in the house, they will dry out faster. “Keeping them watered with warm water will melt the sap and allow the tree to take water,” said Alderman. “When you cut the tree, the sap seals the cut. We usually give the tree a fresh cut to square it up after it gets to the lot because sometimes the cuts aren’t straight.”“How many trees to you expect to sell?” I asked.“We sold 374 last year, and over 400 the year before,” Alderman said. “We usually bring in 80 trees a week.”The Lodge expects slow sales the first week. “So far,” Lester said Friday, “we’ve already sold three trees. We start this weekend, but will sell more towards the middle of the month, and then it will slow down.”Moose Lodge members are busy this weekend with other projects as well. While three members opened the tree lot, some prepared for a memorial service and others got ready for Woodland’s Winter Fest where they provide a nativity scene, hayrides, candy, lighting of a Christmas tree in the park and a visit from Santa.Some of the other Moose Lodge projects during the year include Mobile Meals, the Kids’ Fishing Derby, and the Easter egg hunt. Fundraisers also help the fire and police departments and the Community Center. Considering all the good deeds the Moose Lodge does, I’d say they are a Christmas gift to the community.Sidebar:Christmas Tree TipsLocate your tree stand before going to the tree lot and decide where you will place the tree.If you need a new stand, don’t wait too long. Stores often sell out.Measure the space you have for the tree, as well as the opening the trunk will go through in the stand.Take a tape measure to be sure the tree will fit in your space.Take gloves and plastic or cardboard to keep the tree sap off your hands and your vehicle.Find out when the tree was cut: the fresher, the better. If it is losing needles, it is probably not fresh.When you get home with the tree, remember to water frequently. It will be especially thirsty during the first week.