Four days after Thanksgiving scooted out the door, we dressed in woolen layers and drove up to Pieropan’s tree farm for our annual December ritual. Set in Ashfield, the farm is about thirty minutes from our place.
Except for the family who runs the farm, the place was empty when we arrived. We parked on the side of the road near the path. I honestly can’t tell you who was more excited to trek uphill through the balsams with walking sticks and a camera, Luke or I.
We stopped by the tree at the entrance. There’s a sheet of instructions stapled to its bark along with a set of hacksaws nailed to the side. Here’s how it works. You pick up a hacksaw and a slender measuring branch wrapped with red tape so you know about how much stump needs to be left behind (four feet or so).
The thrill is in wading through the maze of trees, drunk off the balsam spiked air and fending off thorny branches wont to hit uncovered cold skin. It’s also in finding that magic combination of nostalgia and meaning symbolized by the ideal tree, equal parts Norman Rockwell and Charlie Brown.
An hour later, we found our tree. David and I took turns hacking into the trunk. The tree fell in a soft heap then we hauled it down to the car. Tied to the roof of the car, the tree made it home and then into the house where we lavished it with water and felted ornaments as we toasted to soy nog.
Luke, of course, had an alcohol-free vanilla version while David and I emptied our gingery rum flavored ones.
My camera battery died at the farm so this story will have to do.
Happy merry everything to you, Cheers!
To make a non-alcoholic vanilla soy nog version, leave out the rum and ginger. Increase the ground nutmeg to 1/2 teaspoon and add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or the seed pods scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean.
Gingery Rum Soy Nog
makes 4 servings
1 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 cups vanilla vegan ice cream
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons rum, to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth and thick.
Pour into 4 cups, powder with a little extra nutmeg, and serve. Or prep the soy nog ahead, refrigerate it until ready, then stir and serve.