Opening day at Ruhl's Christmas Tree Farm, Nov. 23, found the day mild and bright. While many were out enjoying Black Friday sales, Ruhl's collection of trees in Phoenix attracted residents from around the area in search of the perfect tree for holiday celebrations.
The Sherman family of Glen Arm was the first to arrive down Ruhl's long, gravel driveway on "Green Friday."
With their two sons, Justin and Cody, home from Salisbury University, Robin and David Sherman decided it was a good time to get a tree before the boys returned to school.
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"We always cut our own tree down," said David. "We don't always do it the day after Thanksgiving. They're home from college and going back this afternoon. If we don't do it today, it will be several weeks."
"We are not picky," said Robin as she walked with the family's dog, Raven, through the trees. But she said they wanted one that would be hearty and long-lasting. "We keep it up as long as we can. With all the lights, I love it. It is very peaceful."
Josh Taylor, of Edgemere, set off across Ruhl's 14 acres with a purpose — a big tree.
"I really go to maximum height," Taylor said, scanning the field. "We have a split level and the living room has a large ceiling. We can fit a 12-foot tree if we want to go all out."
His girlfriend, Kelly Ziegler had her own requirements for a tree — nice and full, with a good shape.
"I think I could be happy with this one," said Ziegler, as she and Taylor eyed a fir with a few gaps on the outskirts of the field. "It is a nice shape. If we put it up against a window, I would be more concerned, but we're putting it up against the wall."
Taylor and Ziegler have made it a tradition the last three years to cut a tree down the day after Thanksgiving. This year, they were joined for the second time by their friends, Stephanie Dietz and Ryan Wright, of Federal Hill.
"We live in the city in a very narrow, small house," said Dietz, as they walked through the field. "We also have a kitten and a dog. I'm interested to see what they will do with it."
Robert Ruhl, owner of the tree farm, said the first two weekends in December are always his busiest. He will be open every day from now until Dec. 23, however, as many families often come after school, too.
While many people have opted for artificial trees, there's nothing quite like a fresh tree, as Ruhl's employee, Paul Single discovered.
"I never had a real tree before," Single admitted. "Bob gives everybody he works with a free tree. I love the smell of Christmas in the house."
Baltimore County is home to several choose and cut Christmas tree farms. For more details and additional listings in surrounding counties, go to the Maryland Christmas Tree Association Web site, http://www.marylandchristmastrees.org.
Doyle's Christmas Tree Farm
1155 Bernoudy Road, White Hall. 410-404-2095, or go to http://www.doyleschristmastreefarm.com. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sundays only, through Dec. 23. Douglas firs. Bow saws provided, free baling. Directions: Interstate-83 north to exit 27 (Mount Carmel Road) toward Hereford. Left at York Road. Go about 2.5 miles, turn right at Wiseburg Road. Follow to slight right at Bernoudy Road. Go about one mile to farm on right.
Davidson Christmas Tree Farm
1101 Emory Church Road, Upperco. Call 410-239-6556; http://www.davidsonchristmastreefarm.com. Open through Dec. 24, daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fraser, Douglas and Canaan fir; blue and Norway spruce, white pine. Small quantities (100 or less) of Serbian and White and Black Spruce, Concolor and Balsam fir. Wreaths, roping, baling, saws. Snack bar and gift shop on weekends. Directions: From Route 140, take Route 91 north to Emory Church Road. Left one mile to farm on right.