Dan Peterson turned onto Townline road for the first time in 10 years.
The signs of new development were evident with old farms now bare of trees, the old Patterson house boarded up, the yard overgrown and tangled.
Farther along, the Johnson house was now nothing but a foundation, Mrs. Johnson’s prized rhododendrons and azaleas trampled into the mud by heavy equipment.
Around the corner he drove up behind a man standing beside a truck with a flat tire.
“Need a hand?’ Dan inquired.
“Thanks, I’ve been moving and I left my spare at home. If you can give me a lift, it’s just around the bend.”
They pulled up at a farm house and Dan said, “This was where I grew up, my family home.”
“Well come on in, my name is Barry and we’re renting here. My wife lost her nursing job when the hospital cut staff and had to sell my Kenworth because the plant closed down, so we’re here for a while ’til we get back on our feet.”
Barry introduced his wife June and 10-year-old son Donny.
Dan looked around and said, “Four days before Christmas we always had this place decorated inside and out.”
“Well we can’t afford lights or a tree so maybe Christmas takes a back seat this year.”
Dan pointed to a back closet.
“Donny, in there is an access to the attic, and I’ll bet there are four boxes of lights and decorations up there. I’ll take your dad back to his truck, and then you and I will go cut a free tree on Mr. Fraser’s farm next door.”
Dan and Donny knocked on the door of the Fraser house, and it was opened by a young lady in a community nursing uniform.
She told Dan that Mr. Fraser was sleeping.
“He refuses to sell to NOS Developments, but he’s going to need a full time nurse if he plans to stay at home. He is very proud and stubborn, but he can’t be alone. He needs someone to check on him every day, and we can’t provide that service.”
Dan smiled, “Well, I might just know a nurse who is looking for work. I’ll have her stop by.”
Dan and Donny went into the forest behind the old faded barn, and it didn’t take long to find a seven foot fir tree that would fit nicely in the front window.
They dragged the tree through the snow back to Dan’s truck and were just throwing it in the back when an SUV with yellow flashing lights pulled up. A man got out wearing a jacket with an NOS Security logo on the front.
He put on his cap and approached Dan’s truck.
Looking Dan straight in the eye he questioned, “Can I ask where you cut that tree?
Will they have to surrender their Christmas tree? Stay tuned for Part Two on Dec. 25!
At least that’s what McGregor says.