Jim Cox, 46, can trace his family's mountain roots back 10 generations.
There is a good explanation for that. No generation has ever wanted to leave the brisk mountain air, acres of green forests or the old-fashioned values of the mountain folk. He too plans to always call the Blue Ridge Mountains his home.
But this time of year, Cox will make an exception and move into the center of a baseball field for the next month, in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by dozens of neighborhoods. He'll do this, but he'll bring hundreds of green, bristled mountain reminders with him.
Cox is a Christmas tree farmer from Ashe County, which is the number one producer of Christmas trees in North Carolina, and the number two producer nationally, behind Oregon.
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His Bull Branch Christmas Tree Farm, named after the little creek that runs through it, boasts 150 acres lined with neat rows of some 70,000 Frasier Firs.
For the last 10 years, Cox has turned the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church ball field on Poplar Tent Road into a miniature forest among the neighborhoods of Concord.
"You've never seen beauty until you've walked through a tree field and seen the trees kissed by snow," he said.
Cox knows his way around town. His father was transferred to Concord in 1976 while working for Southern Bell Telephone.
Cox graduated from Central Concord High School in 1981 and went on to receive a bachelors degree in criminal justice from UNC Charlotte in 1984.
Years ago, when he decided to become a tree farmer, he signed on as a hired hand for one first.
"I asked a lot of questions," he said of those early days.
When he was ready to go out on his own, he started a Christmas tree farm in Crumpler, N.C. He gets lots of help from his wife, Jeannette, 42, son, Nathan, 17, and daughter, Jaclyn, 17, and his mom, dad, brother and nephew.
Although artificial trees have become increasingly popular over the years, profits have been good during the 10 years he's been selling in Concord.
"Our business has increased every year, except last year, when we were off by 50 trees," he said.
So far, this year has exceeded his expectations.
"The rain has made our trees look good,"said Cox.
Cox is a firm believer of recycling, and has heard many stories of how customers have reused their Christmas trees, from putting them in ponds for fish habitats to sprinkling them with bird seed and leaving them outside for several weeks.
"You'll be surprised how long a tree will stay green outside," he said.
Cox plants a new tree for every one cut and recycles any leftover trees from the lot into mulch.
If you're looking for a Christmas tree, visit Bull Branch Christmas Trees on Poplar Tent Road. It's open Monday through Sunday at 8 a.m. until Dec. 21, with trees from two feet to 12 feet, ranging in price from $20 to $100.
With hayrides and eye catchers like the 30-foot inflatable snowman and old-fashioned horse drawn sleigh, you'll be glad Cox pulled up his mountain roots, if only for the holidays.