… on risk and reward at christmastime

That is my first little dock tree… being snowed on in the late afternoon of yesterday.

At high tide (that piece of knowledge will be important later).

When I first announced my plans for having a dock tree, people who live here and know better sort of smiled in a way that I took as meaning, ‘How sweet’.

They really meant, ‘Rookie.’

But on I marched.

When I brought my tree home, I wanted to set it up and right away.

Sure, it was a bit windy but…


Having never set up a dock tree before, I made a plan that involved rope and stuff.

And also giant C9 bulbs, which are de rigueur for dock trees (according to me).

So, with a lot of rope, and two strands of C9 bulbs, and a pair of scissors, and my tree (imprisoned in a plastic mesh-y net thing), I left the barn and headed down to the water.

In addition, I had a tree stand because – though I was a dock tree setting up neophyte – I am no dummy.

First, I wrestled the tree into said stand.

This was not entirely safe.

Remember I said that it was important that you knew the photo there was taken at high tide? Well, when I set up the tree, it was actually low tide. Hence, the water was about twelve feet below the dock, having happily exposed Maine’s famed rocky shore.

So, there was me… wrestling my tree into its stand… on uneven ground… beside a cliff.

How I looked doing it was confirmed rather quickly when a single lobster boat bub-bub-bubbed its way through the gut* and it actually slowed down when the captain saw me.

He did not wave.

He laughed.


But I totally kept my Christmas cheer! I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to have this little tree on my dock for people to see. It’s like a little Christmas gift of smiles.”

Or something along those lines.

As I was tying the ropes all around the tree and then to the dock, it occurred to me that I know exactly one type of knot.

What if my knots didn’t hold up in the hurricane that seemed to be brewing?

Weeks earlier, I’d laughed adoringly as my neighbor and friend (and sailor), ChrisChrisChris, told me that her granddaughters asked for a boat cleat and rope for Christmas so they could practice tying their knots. How cute was that?!

Now I know those little girls would kick my ass on Survivor.

Doesn’t feel good.

Also, though the four-ish ropes I tied to the dock on the land side were fairly easy to do, the ones on the water side (the cliff side) were rather challenging in the ‘trying-to-avoid-falling-off-the-dock-onto-deadly-rock-formations-and-then-rolling-unconsciously-into-the-water’ department.

Well, long story short, I was breathing heavily when I finished tying the tree down, which is what most people do just after their near-death experiences.

I was wiped.

And that’s when I realized it.

Something I will never do again.

I had a tree. Tied to a dock. With multiple levels of many much ropery.

And I’d forgotten to put the lights on the tree.


My dock looked like one of those laser security systems from Mission Impossible… with a tree in the middle of it.

And now I had to string lights around that tree, getting past and around the ropes, in the space my 4-foot by 4-foot-dock offered me, as it sat way above a rocky shore… where there may or may not be sharks.

What. You don’t know.

All I can say is that I am very glad that Mr. Lobsterman did not come back during my attempts to wrap lights around my little dock tree, because whilst I envisioned myself as graceful as Ann Hathaway, avoiding the security lasers in Get Smart, I believe others might rank my coordination below that of an ostrich in a canoe.


Several times I was hanging onto a beam, my body out over the water and rocks, wind wHipping my hair into my face, trying to make sure the lights were placed just so on the water side.

Yes. Sadly it was that important to me that the lights be perfectly spaced on my little dock tree.


It was my first one!

It was indeed pretty funny, and awfully uncoordinated, but I swear I was sort-of safe.

As with so many things in this life, there was a bit of risk required for a bit of reward.

A small reward, in the form of a little tree.

Yesterday, it snowed.

In the late afternoon, Blaze by my side, I headed over to ChrisChrisChris’s house to take my dock tree’s first official photo.

And it was great.

Sure enough, it made me smile.

Christmas lights, on a little tree, shining brightly through a landscape steeped in grey and white.

I thought of that lobsterman driving through again, maybe each afternoon, seeing the little lit up tree and remembering the crazy lady working so hard to get it there.

The process wasn’t pretty (or even remotely magical), but I wonder if he has smiled at my little tree too.

I like to think so.

Thanks for readin.

*a ‘gut’ is a channel/strait subject to strong tidal currents and/or tide differences. We overlook the waterway between our island and the mainland (you are now wicked educated and smaht!)

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