Thursday, December 20, 2012

Big Bike, Tiny Tree

On a rare day off for us both we decided to catch up on some errands, including getting a tree. So we pedaled over to a local tree place. Now that I have this big cargo bike on loan, I toyed with the idea of a real, full sized pine. I imagined the fun of lugging it home. Also, in my crazy little fantasy world, I pictured everyone arriving to the tree place by bike - a procession of longtails, bakfietsen and porteurs transporting all manner of prickly greenery, the length of Somerville Avenue filled with the scent of pine. Naturally a brass band played in the background. 

Then we got to the tree place. And gosh, I don't know, it was so sad. Our lonely bikes surrounded by SUVs in the parking lot. All the cut-down trees stacked up against a rusty fence. There was no way they would all get bought in time for the holidays.  

We hung out for a bit. The place was like a small, dead miniature pine forest amidst an urban landscape. 

Xtra Holiday Errands
Finally, we did the same thing we did last year: bought a small potted pine. It doesn't look very impressive, but on the plus side it will live... maybe.

Xtra Holiday Errands
Which brings me to a dark confession: You see, last year I killed one of these little trees. I didn't mean to! My plan was to remove the decorations after the holidays and keep the tree in the house year-round, to be decorated again the following year. But the tree failed to thrive in our apartment and eventually dried up. This time I will read up on replanting, and hopefully this one will survive. A bicycle ride to the forest is in this little tree's future...

40 comments:

  1. You're only just now putting up your tree? Our two little girls more or less insist on our tree going up the first week of December. As for me, nothing I like better than coming home from my very early morning ride, when the family is still asleep, and sitting in the living room with a cup of tea and the Christmas tree lights on.

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  2. I have carried my trees for years by bike. Each time was always less than 2 miles. the worse was on the Moultin. It was a total mess that required 3 stops before I reached the house. The B.O.B. trailer has made it a joy and allowed me to move larger trees.Years ago it looked real dumb to do such a thing, now its HIP! My things have changed!

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  3. And while you were there you picked up a 650B/Hetre wheelset as a pair of wreath frames?

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    1. You know how it is; they grow on trees around here.

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  4. I hauled a big tree on my cargo bike once:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1786092735947&set=vb.1348385195&type=2&theater

    It worked well enough, though I think I spent more time tying the thing down than hauling it.

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  5. You tree-killer, you! ;-)

    Seriously, I can't criticize you for that: I've unintentionally shortened the life-span of some greenery I've kept in my living spaces. I do much better with animals than I do with plants.

    Anyway...The tree-shopping trip sounds like a lot of fun. And the trip to the woods will be a bittersweet day.

    I've actually moved myself from one living space to another on my bicycle. I didn't have one of those long-haul bikes: About the closest thing to it that was available was a Worksman Cycles industrial bikes. And I wasn't about to buy one of those to use it only for that once-every-couple-of-years move!

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    1. So far, everything I've transported on the Xtra I could have also transported on a normal sized bike, just not all at once. I keep hoping I'll have something big and impressive to move while it's in my possession, but looks like that's a no.

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  6. Make sure it is not a European varietal before putting it in a forest.

    If it is European maybe better to sneak it into a local park.

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  7. I love the potted small pine idea. I plan to go that route when my daughter is older. The idea of replanting is so appealing - good call!

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  8. I think if you want to keep a tree like that alive, you'll need to replant it outside.

    I admit that we went to Ricky's and took the car--I didn't even think about trying to get the tree-and-a-half (a small one for the deck) back to the house on the bike. And it makes the car smell like pine trees for a while after.

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  9. Where did the wheels come from?

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    1. In Somerville MA, with any holiday purchase you receive a complimentary set of 650B wheels.

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    2. That's because almost all of your readers went out and bought 650B wheels and Hetre tires before checking to see what modifications they needed to make to their bikes to fit them. Many of the wheel sets ended up abandoned, sometimes outside of bike shops. I found a nice set with King classic hubs in mango, 36 spokes, in front of Bike Boom. I checked in at the store and they told me they were free. I brought them home but realized I couldn't fit them on either of my frames. I just abandoned them outside the UPS store on Somerville Ave this morning. Maybe you picked up that set today?

      I saw rider on a Soma mixte coming down Mass Ave out of Arlington today. It looked like one of the successful 650B adaptations (or original parts). Made me want to get one built up like that.

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  10. Seasonal "Ho-ho" so "Naturally a brass band played in the background". Clearly a total romantic. Nice idea though.

    A bike trailer would have enabled some serious righteousness. But brava in any event. It's always good to lead the way.

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  11. No tree-by-bike for me this year. Additionally it was decapitated. This the season!

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  12. That's actually a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. As long as you stick it in the ground when Christmas is over, it should be fine. I planted a couple of Dwarf Alberta Spruces in front of my house a few years ago. They looked half dead (some branches turned brown) for the first year or so but they have since filled out nicely.

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    1. Thanks! Do you know this just by looking at my pictures, or are all/most of these trees of that variety?

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    2. Just by looking at the picture, but both really. Dwarf spruces are by far the commonly used tree for potted Christmas Trees. Any pine small enough to fit in that pot would be way too scraggly, like Charlie Brown's tree, to look like a Christmas Tree. The one exception would be a Dwarf Mugo Pine but they're sort of flat topped and don't have that conical growth habit necessary to be a Christmas Tree. They're actually really ugly. If I sound like I know too much about trees its because I used to be a bonsai buff.

      Really, Dwarf Spruces are VERY hearty. But they are trees and they like to be outside, not inside. Best way to kill a bonsai is to keep it inside in the winter. Trees need down time in the winter to rest and save up energy for the growth cycle in the spring. You can keep your tree in the pot but you need to put it outside, ideally in a non-heated green house or even a garage. If you leave it exposed outside, you should probably cover the pot with a blanket or bury the pot in dirt to protect the roots but it might be ok even if you don't (very hearty). Water it maybe once a week through the winter and it should be OK. Really, the best thing to do is stick it in the ground.

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  13. I went to an artificial tree more than ten years ago. No, I'm not thrilled by it, although it looks just fine. I simply wasn't willing to continue to embrace the wastefulness of Christmas trees, starting with the shipping of the trees to the point of sale, and ending with the sad display of trees tossed to the curb for pick up. I just didn't want to participate in that process any longer.

    The potted idea is appealing. I hope it works. In the future, maybe carefully identify the appropriate species and the place of planting, prior to purchase?

    Happy Holidays

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    1. We had a small artificial tree until the potted idea occurred to me last year. I've also made trees out of scrap paper in the past...

      True, I could have thought this through better and identified the species, etc. On the other hand, it is so easy to get obsessed with these things. I want to avoid a tree replanting blog in my future.

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    2. http://lovelytree.blogspot.com/ is already taken...

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  14. What is the other bike in the story? It looks like a mixte with hetres, which I think i saw a photo of somewhere in random flickrdom...

    It's sad, but you need to get the tree planted as soon as you can. Or keep it somewhere outside until you have time to plant it and read up on how to do it. Being inside for even a short time stresses evergreens. It will thank you kindly if you can get it back into the forest. We always go out and pick fallen cedar and pine branches and tie them together. There is a christmas tree farm up the road and last year while walking through had found several sad looking thin small trees had been murdered and tossed into the bushes either because someone changed their mind or they looked too straggly. So, I dragged several home and shared them with friends. Yesterday after a windstorm I found piles of evergreen branches perfect for christmas.
    It would have been very cute to bike home with a big tree, brass band and all.

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    1. Proto-mixte I designed; more details soon.

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  15. A diligent follower of your blog, for quite some time now, and one who does appreciate your writer’s penchant for doing justice to detail, and of course this capacity to explore psychological and emotional depths. I have also looked up some other people you mentioned and took to them too (Jan Heine being my favourite at the moment). All this is to briefly say that you seem to be one of these people who must be aware of which way the wind blows and that you are in control.

    And you know what Velouria? When I finished reading this short text it’s not bicycles that came to my mind but some vague memory of my childhood when I learned to read between the lines. I grew up in then communist Poland and it was then that any mention of a religious festival in an official paper was out of question. Reading your article when you say you were ‘getting a tree’, or you ‘got to the tree place’, or ‘the cut-down trees stuck up’, or ‘the tree failed to thrive, and a couple of more suchlike phrases I time and again had to reassure myself and give prompts to myself of the kind: “oh, yes, naturally by ‘ a tree’ she means ‘a Christmas tree’, by ’ the holiday’ she means ‘Christmas’ ” . And so on. For goodness sake! No wonder that it’s all so depressing, it’s George Orwell’s doublespeak and doublethink at its best. It’s Poland of my childhood I wouldn’t by any means go back to.

    Is it some kind of tasteless political correctness, or an effort at being delicate not to offend people of other creeds? But then it’s like wanting to write about bikes avoiding the use of brand names so as not to antagonize the lovers of another brand. You couldn’t say ‘I rode a Pashley yesterday and I enjoyed it’ for the sake of e.g. Raleigh fans who might be take offence …

    Is it America today? Is it you? Or it it what? Please explain. And then I’m only too glad to revenir a nos moutons, I mean bicycles.

    alan
    de pl


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    1. I am keeping Alan's comment, but the others were removed and new ones weren't/ won't be approved here. This is not the place for a debate on religious or political philosophies.

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  16. Please do not feed this habit consuming. Celebrate Christmas in a simpler way, need not destroy a tree.

    Merry Christmas and good "pedal".

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  17. Is that a new mixte that you have acquired? Nice Christmas tree. Happy Holidays to you!

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    1. Proto-mixte I designed; more details soon.

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  18. I've always heard that real trees, while appearing wasteful, are actually kinder to the environment compared to a fake tree. We always get a real tree from a local farm. More expensive than Home Depot, etc. but at least I know it was grown local and not cut down weeks ago to be shipped down to the US from northern Canada.

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    1. I've heard reasonable arguments for this same thing, and I've heard reasonable arguments for its opposite. It's really hard to know for sure. In the end, people tend to do what intuitively appeals to them, and justify it with logic after the fact. Or so the studies suggest...

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    2. Minura compact bike stand with the hooks off makes a great Festivus stand for a day. Put the hooks back on and it holds your bike the other 364.

      Liking that Mixte more and more every time I see it.

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    3. Ouch. Appears this is correct, with the caveat that the artifical tree becomes more environmentally friendly if used for somwhere beteween 6 and 20 years. makes me think - yet again - about the reflexive habit of simply consuming.

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  19. I noticed the cool green pannier bag in the second photo. What brand is that? Looks like it's look great on my VO campeur build I'm about to finish. :) Will have a rear constructeur rack for it. Nice tree!

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    1. On my bike, that's a brown Po Campo Loop Pannier (reviewed here).

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  20. We always buy a tree from the local Optimist Club. They come from a tree farm somewhere in northwest Montana. We have no regrets about the purchase, as the trees are recycled into mulch, which is applied on local walking/biking trails.
    I think your potted tree option is a good idea as long as you can find a decent home for it.
    That pretty mixte keeps popping up on the blog. Can't wait to read about it.

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  21. Velouria, if I may offer some perspective on last year's effort and some advice on how to make this year's thrive. It's a tree. They don't like living inside. The thing is, the only plants that make good houseplants are ones that thrive in limited sunlight (which is why so many of them are tropical understory plants). Trees need SUN, WIND - they have to be out among the other trees. The best thing you could do for this little guy is get the biggest pot for it you can come up with, some good potting soil, some slow-release fertilizer, and put it outside. Remember to let it mostly dry out between waterings. Every few years, repot it into a bigger pot as it outgrows the current one and add fresh soil and fertilizer according to a schedule appropriate for the plant species.

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  22. The SUV driers have no idea what the two bikes represent in terms of a healthy lifestyle and sustainable world. Bravo to both of you.

    Happy Solstice,

    Rod

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    1. With all due respect, not all SUV drivers are clueless. I'm sure your transportation choices are not the sum total of whom you are as a person either. Let's not give cyclists the reputation for being hastily judgmental...

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  23. The tree should be okay indoors for about a week, but no more than that, V.
    We kept one of the little 6" pot Trader Joes' specials for four years, and were getting ready to transplant it when it got nailed by insects last year.

    The 650b wheels confuse me- they're in the Xtracycle basket, then they're on the bike, then they're in the Xtra again. it's like that Mixte of yours can't decide on a pair of shoes...

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  24. Just realised that I forgot to follow up on this. We planted the tree shortly after the holidays, in a nearby park. I've since visited it a couple of times, and it seems to be doing fine. It remains to be seen of course, but I hope it survives.

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