Thursday, November 19, 2020

Turning Dead Palm Trees into Christmas Decorations

The summer of 2020 in Phoenix was absolutely brutal. We broke almost all heat records, with new records in days over 100 degrees (144 days), days over 110 degrees (53), and days over 115 degrees (14). We also broke a record for the highest low-temperatures, with 28 nights not dropping below 90 degrees. Needless to say, this summer was intense.

So it's not surprising that all around the Valley of the (Intense) Sun, people had their palm trees crisping up and dying. When two of my queen palms started looking like something out of an Indiana Jones desert scene, I thought they were not getting enough water. Then I noticed that palm trees throughout my neighborhood looked the same, so I knew these were deader than a Monty Python Norwegian Blue. 

I hesitated to cut them down, since each Christmas I wrapped them in red and white lights and made them look like candy cane sticks. But I also didn't want to have dead palm trees throughout the holidays. 

What's a boy to do... 

Then I had an epiphany. I had a great opportunity to make actual candy canes. It was a fairly easy process, cost about $25 in extra supplies (I already had the lights), and took almost no time at all. 

First, I cut off the tops of the palm trees. Using my chainsaw, I tapered the top of the tree so it looked like a wedge. 

Then I had my kids paint the trees white as high up as they could reach. Nothing fancy, just a little primer that I already had on hand. I finished the top of the tree. At this point my neighbors all thought I had lost my mind. Some though I was painting the trees white to try to save them (like painting the base of a citrus tree white to keep the bark from baking off), while others thought I had finally snapped from the strain of 2020. Little did they know that I had a plan. 

I bought a section of rigid ductwork ($15), cut it in half, shaped it in an arc, and painted it white as well. I shoved one end of this onto the top of the palm tree, the section that I cut into a wedge, duct taped it, and painted the duct tape white. 

Finally, I bought four spools of red tulle ($2.50 each). I spiraled these in double layers around the arc and down to the bottom, leaving space for the white to show through. On the red tulle I wrapped red lights, and on the white palm tree I wrapped white lights. The result is two extremely tall candy canes decorating my yard for the holidays. 

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you a brutal summer and kills your palm trees, you shake your fist and make Christmas yard decorations. 

Happy Holidays, everybody! 

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