So on Sunday we got up earlyish, and I went out and got our usual bagels earlyish (for us, for a Sunday morning), and then we (M and I and the little boy, the little daugther being off at college being a college student) got into the big car, and drove north to cut down a tree.
(A Christmas Tree, as we call it, although being only somewhat into the Mass of Christ ourselves, and the Tree for that matter being part of a probably-older tradition that may or may not have been a prefiguring in some sense or another of the more recent one; a Solstice Tree, as I sometimes call it, and generally think of it myself, being of the kind of tree that stays green all winter, therefore either serving as a reminder that the winter will end, or representing a disturbance in the natural order until we cut it down and bring it inside where green and living things belong in the winter, so that the natural order will be restored and the winter can then end, or quite likely something else entirely.)
I had read in a discussion on a fun little Second Life related (or vaguely or nominally Second Life related) forum that I've been taking part in, that Kate Millett, 70's feminist and author of the rather pivotal work "Sexual Politics" (a title which probably seemed paradoxical and perverse when it was first published, but now at least in some circles seems a perfectly natural noun phrase, thanks in no small part to the book itself), had (has) a farm, including a Tree farm, somewhere around the area where we usually go to get our annual Tree.
So when M and I randomly stopped by a local bookstore the other night I picked up a copy of Sexual Politics (not that there might not be a copy upstairs in the library somewhere, you never know), and I found Kate Millet on the Web, including a street address, and I gave that address to Google Maps, and indeed it was right up near where we usually get trees, except on the other side of the Parkway a bit.
The middle of Sunday, then, found us squinting at streetsigns (in the rather bright sun reflected from rather freshly-fallen snow on a not-too-cold day; pretty much the perfect Tree-picking weather really), and finally finding our way to a pleasantly random-looking house with a sign saying "Millett Farm", and in the doorway a wild-hair elder woman, slightly small and stooped, holding a cigarette.
Kate Millett herself signed my copy of "Sexual Politics", and sold me a copy of "The Loony Bin Trip" and "Flying" (all from the same edition of her works, which is nice), and pointed out across the road into the fields, and said we could take any of the trees out there, and we'd probably have to knock some snow off to really see them well.
Which we did, and eventually found a tree, sitting more or less by itself looking more or less like it was waiting for us, which was a good size and a nice shape, and I lay on our folded tarp and cut it down with our tree saw (because after all these years picking trees we come prepared). And a neighbor of Kate Millett's (a hearty young woman who says she's known Ms. Millett since she (the young woman) was three) took thirty dollars from us (a bargain!), and her husband (I think) helped us secure it to the car, and we drove home.
I didn't have the nerve to ask if Ms. Millett was still around, or go up and knock on the now-closed door to say goodbye or discuss sexual politics in the XXIst Century or anything.
But I think maybe I'll writer her a letter (hardcopy, on atoms).