“First Rite: A Christmas Tradition,” by John Cole; Down East Books; hardcover, 32 pages, 20 color illustrations, $12.95.

It is late in the day of the winter solstice as author trudges through fast-falling snow, bucksaw in hand, searching for just the right Christmas tree. So begins this story of a time-honored tradition: cutting the family Christmas tree in the woods.

“First Rite: A Christmas Tradition” is a reminiscence by John Cole, nationally renowned author and acclaimed journalist who is now deceased. His slory of finding the “perfect” tree on his Maine coastal farm is accompanied by comtemplations of childhood Christmases; the past generations of settlers, shipbuilders and saltwater farmers who took their trees from that same land; and the wild creatures who share it.

Watercolors by Mary Beth Owens convey the experience of walking through the Maine woods.

Cole wrote a dozen books, including “Striper, In Maine, Away All Boats,” and “Life List.” He has contributed articles to a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including the Sun Journal for which he wrote book reviews. His saltwater farm in Brunswick, is still home to his widow, Jean.

“First Rite: A Christmas Tradition” is available wherever books are sold or directly from Down East Books at www.downeastbooks.com or 800-685-7962.

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