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Rudolph’s marks the beginning of the holiday season

Look for Rudolph’s Christmas tree lot at the corner of South Lamar and Bluebonnet; the big red-and-white striped tent protecting the Fraser firs and all the other trees catches the eye right away, even though the signs are still being put in place. This image shows new ornamentation for the sales booth. I don’t know whether we were the first customers today, but we certainly enjoyed our choice of the very freshest trees, aromatic and drinking water right away when set up ready to be decorated. There may be less expensive trees in town, but no friendlier welcome or better quality is to be found than at Rudolph’s.

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Rudolph’s is already ready with trees for the holidays

Rudolph's Christmas Trees: "PINE"Right at Evergreen Avenue, a very proper and appropriate location for an enterprise selling Christmas trees, Rudolph’s is now open and has been since yesterday on South Lamar across from Mr. Natural.

The inventory’s larger than last year’s and the prices seem to be even more reasonable than they were then. These trees are as fresh as can be, and the friendly people there will prune lower branches so that a tree will fit better in the stand. The boughs are yours to take home for added evergreen scent. Ask to have an inch or so sawn off the bottom of the trunk for better uptake of water.

For those without a tree stand, Rudolph’s offers inconspicuous and very stable dark-green plastic ones with four sturdy eye-bolts to hold the trunk upright. See photos of this year’s and last year’s selection of hand-painted signs on display. Rudolph’s is open seven days a week until all trees are sold.

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Rudolph’s is open and has the trees

This is one of the hand-painted signs. Today was like old-home week at Rudolph’s, with lots of kissing and hugging. One customer introduced her father to all and said she’s been buying her trees at Rudolph’s for fifteen years. This is the tree-stand that set up near Fox Service while the drugstore and condos were being built adjacent to the old Maria’s Taco Xpress location, at the corner of South Lamar and Bluebonnet. This year, the canopy appears to be new, with eye-catching bright red-and-white stripes. All the shade cloth seems to be new, as well. The trees are standing in water and are extremely fresh. Ask for the bottom of the trunk to be cut off so that the tree may be stood in water and begin taking it up anew before pitch seals the trunk again. The gourds and pumpkins are officially retired now, and the homeplace is scented with the fresh aura of the new holiday season, thanks to Rudolph’s.

Our other stop this morning was the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress, where we found yet another of those great Austin souvenirs that make fine presents. It’s the 2011 Music & Mutts calendar benefiting Blue Dog Rescue.

South Congress is crazy busy today, with lines at Guero’s and other establishments.

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Roving Rudolph’s returns

Last year, Rudolph’s tree lot wasn’t at the accustomed place. I think that the owners were hoping to sell the land and develop it in no time, which didn’t happen. Eventually Rudolph’s was finally found, on South Congress on what was probably a part of the Fox Service grounds, near St. Elmo. At that location this year, there’s an inconspicuous sign directing seekers to somewhere on William Cannon and also to 2401 South Lamar, which turns out to be the traditional Rudolph’s stand, at Evergreen by the trailer park. This spot is in the shade, which helps the trees to keep longer. We didn’t get our Christmas tree today. It’s easier to wait until there’s not much choice. With a smaller array, not much time is invested in the selection process and so it’s much more efficient. If I saw the bottom off any tree, even one that has stood in the sun, I find that it takes up water until Easter, if that’s how long we want to have it around. It also helps that trees in this household have no lights on them. Nothing beats candlelight on a tree, and that’s what we had when I was a kid. But now I feel that candles on a tree are too dangerous; yet, no artificial lights ever look good to me. Off a tree and strung in garlands, yes; but on a tree, no. Even though the tree will come from Rudolph’s, it may be time to stop by the Optimist tree lot on North Lamar to see if anybody’s made any beer-can or pop-can pinwheels this year. The existing ones are getting a bit old.

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Peaches straight from the orchard may be found at South Lamar and Bluebonnet (where Rudolph’s Christmas tree stand sets up, next to the drugstore that’s next to Maria’s Taco Xpress).

Look for the white E-Z UP canopy. The season for cling peaches is almost over; soon the freestone peaches will be here.

These are peaches as they are meant to be.

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Itinerant tree stand found again

next to Taco XpressThe trees are fresh, the people are friendly, and the signs are all painted or stenciled by hand.

Rudolph’s Christmas trees spent some time away from its customary location while Maria’s was moved and the drugstore and condos went up. But for at least the second season in a row, it’s back at the old location, just a bit less conspicuous than it used to be.

The staff will remove branches and make a fresh cut at the base of the tree selected.

Ours is up, drinking water, and filling the house with its balsamic scent. It’s so fresh that we know it will hang on to its needles right up to Three Kings Day and beyond.

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It didn’t rain on the parade

But it came close. This is one of the two balloons we saw at Chuy’s parade; Hello Kitty led off the parade and this was the other. Music was light this year. Los Texas Wranglers played nonstop. The Anderson High band was in full winter uniform. The Kyle Sisters and the Biscuit Brothers sang. And there was a karaoke contingent from GSD&M.

Crowd favorites were the little chihuahua in red holiday garb who kept jumping out of his tiny wicker sleigh. Other favorites were the Hawaiian dancers, the child gymnasts, and the gift-gatherers from Whole Foods masquerading as fruits and vegetables.

Maybe it was the sight of them that made us hungry, or maybe it was just the good fresh air. It was on to Matt’s, which was busy, busy, busy (and where the food was tasty, as always), followed by a stop at Rudolph’s tree lot on South Lamar next to the Walgreen’s – Maria’s Taco Xpress complex. I can’t think what else there could be that could possibly make this holiday weekend a happier one. And there’s still one day left!

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Scent of a new season

Rudolph's Christmas tree standBell’s seasoning and roasting turkey scented the air yesterday, but that was yesterday. Thanksgiving’s now officially over. Today’s olfactory aura is one of evergreen and pitch. Rudolph’s Christmas tree lot has found a home again this year at Bluebonnet and South Lamar, inconspicuous amidst the new construction on the Maria’s Taco Xpress lot, but still there. For us, it’s closer than the Optimist lot, which has also been a faithful tree source over the years. Besides, I always admire the hand-painted signs and other artistic touches that grace this tiny seasonal enterprise. This year’s display makes tree stands into a decorative wall element and shows them to be just as ornamental as the wreaths showcased right next to them. We like to bring a tree home while it’s still fresh. It will gain nothing by sitting outdoors, even in water and under a shade, and, since the official closing of the transoms yesterday morning, the house is “warmed” by one floor furnace, which will in no way curtail this tree’s period of fir freshness. Now it’s time to start baking cookies.

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Holding down the fort

Farm to Market Grocery, Thanksgiving 2007It’s Thanksgiving Day, but Farm to Market Grocery was open until 3 this afternoon, and Central Market South and THE H-E-B (at Congress and Oltorf) were open until 2. Slack’s Chevron was open and the person there before us had bought 57 dollars’ worth of gas; that’s scary, kids. We were happy to discover that our fresh Mary’s turkey from Wheatsville was a better deal than the Mary’s at Central Market South. No turkey could be tastier. At Farm to Market, we found a great apron to be a gift for for a diminutive person, stenciled in red with the FM logo and “78704.” At Central Market, we were happy to replenish the not-too-sweet and very fresh-tasting cider from Fowler Farms in New York State and I was confident that I could pick out the Northern Spy apples (the best pie apple) from all the other unlabeled apples. We were also happy to discover that Rudolph’s Christmas tree stand has been set up and is easily found right next to the Walgreens and Maria’s Taco Xpress complex on South Lamar at Bluebonnet. That makes it easy to slide from today’s holiday right into the holiday season that’s upon us.

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Austin Grocer Now there’s no need to leave the house for weeks, if we’re snowbound (not likely!). Thanks to the South Austin Farmers’ Market in the El Gallo parking lot, we have more of the very best and tastiest spinach I’ve ever tasted, and organic as a bonus. Rudolph’s Christmas tree lot next to the Taco Xpress Walgreens on Lamar is sold out; the Austin Optimists (North Lamar at San Gabriel) still had a good selection last I knew. At the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress there are still a few little items celebrating one entire year of existence. And Chef Keem has rolled out several elegant new flavors of his chocolate bars, including Bavarian hazelnut coffee bean and spiced rum raisin, wrapped in foil and slid into a custom Farm to Market Grocery wrapper printed on elegant laid paper. Heading for the H-E-B at Oltorf and Congress after a quest at Sun Harvest that didn’t net the sought-after item but did result in finding some good seed packets, we sat for a while at the Thornton Road grade-crossing for a train so long that it had a pusher unit at the end. At H-E-B we found everything on the list, including all three El Galindo products (unsalted chips and both corn and wheat tortillas). On the way out, we encountered a living person unloading the contents of several carts and placing certain perishable items in insulated containers (partially visible at right) with chill-packs. We had seen the Austin Grocer van in this lot more than once, but had never seen more. I asked permission to take this picture and learned a lot about how this service works. If I had remembered its existence, I would have been glad to avail myself of it several times during the past year. I won’t forget again. So, we’re home in plenty of time before the broadcast of Don Carlo. My guess is that rain’s a more likely prospect, but I’m ready for anything. Let it snow!

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