Bone Ditch tree

Yuletide expressions, on Parkdale's Bone Ditch irrigation canal.

This is the tale of a true “holiday tree.”

Christmas ornaments once again adorn the 6-foot Douglas fir known as “Bone Ditch Tree,” near Parkdale, but adornments are a year-round local tradition.

Each holiday season, neighbors and friends along Bone Ditch irrigation channel put new decorations on the live fir tree, to observe key holidays — including Christmas.

Who began the decorating is unknown, but ornaments first appeared anonymously a few years ago. New ornaments regularly show up and are removed in time for the next observance. 2020 has been no different.

“Nobody really knows who started this or when,” writes Jude Russell, a neighbor who has chronicled the Bone Ditch Tree for several years. “I do know most of the people who contribute decorations, and we talk frequently when we see each other walking on the ditch, comparing notes about who added what to the tree.”

Russell said last Mother’s Day was “especially poignant.”

Friends placed about 6-8 mothers’ photos, encased in ziplock baggies, or some more formally laminated, and handwritten notes about each mom, her age, and various qualities about her added below or on the back of each photo.

Russell said neighbors “start a few weeks before each Valentines Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fathers Day, Fourth of July, Halloween (of course!), Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

About a week after each holiday, neighbors reclaim their own decorations and then wait for the advent of the next holiday.

“Sometimes we can save and reuse, but often they’ve become soggy and bedraggled by the elements and need fresh replacements the next year. Dollar Store is a popular source,” Russell said.

“I don’t know if anyone knows when or who first started this but it is a fun and oddly tender and cheerful way to be connected to neighbors up here in the upper valley,” she said.