Scotty the pine tree stood on the front lawn of a Forest Park home. Standing near him were Sugar the maple tree and an apple tree named Adam. It was spring and the wind blew very cold. It rained constantly. Sugar and Adam stood in mud. But Scotty stayed warm and dry, wearing his winter coat and standing on a carpet of soft brown needles. 

Soon green buds popped up on Sugar and Adam’s branches. The buds on Sugar grew seedlings with wings and the air was filled with propellers spinning to the ground. Adam grew white flowers that fell off when his apples started to grow. Scotty just stood there, looking the same as always, wearing his old green coat. 

One warm day, the three kids who lived in the house banged out the front door. They rushed past Scotty and hung a tire from one of Sugar’s branches. As they pushed the swing, Sugar’s arm rocked gently up and down. 

The kids didn’t go near Scotty. They were afraid of his sharp needles and his branches were too skinny to climb. They loved climbing Adam’s sturdy branches. He felt like a father when he held them in his strong arms. When the kids sat up high like that, they felt like they were in an airplane.

That summer, Sugar grew green five-pointed leaves. She swayed gracefully in the cool breeze, while Scotty stood still in his winter coat, feeling hot and dry. For Scotty, the summer seemed to last forever. As autumn came, Sugar’s leaves changed to a soft yellow-green. She showed off her new colors. 

Sugar asked, “Scotty, why don’t you change that old green coat?” 

“I can’t,” said Scotty, shaking his tree top sadly.

“Why don’t you grow some juicy apples?” Adam asked, “Then the kids will climb up to pick them.”

“I can only grow these old brown things,” Scotty said, waving his pinecones.

“Yuck,” Adam said, “Who would want to eat those?”

“Why not make syrup like I do,” said Sugar. “People can pour it on their pancakes.”

“The only thing I can make is … turpentine,” he replied.

As autumn came, Sugar’s leaves turned to gold. The autumn winds blew harder. Sugar danced wildly in the wind, showing off her new colors. The kids sat with their backs against Adam, munching on apples. Their eyes seemed to be dreaming, the fruit was so juicy and sweet. They picked up Sugar’s leaves and brought the prettiest ones inside to show their parents. 

When it turned cold, Sugar’s leaves fell like snow. Her branches became bare. Adam was also losing his leaves and his apples were gone. The family raked Sugar and Adam’s leaves into a big pile. The kids jumped in over their heads. They took down the tire swing. The kids didn’t play with the trees anymore. Sugar and Adam’s naked branches shivered in the cold. 

Soon the snow fell. Scotty’s dark green branches kept his trunk warm. But Sugar and Adam were freezing. The kids ran around in the yard picking up Scotty’s pinecones. Their dad sawed off a few of Scotty’s branches. Soon, Scotty saw a circle of his branches hanging on the front door. It was decorated with pinecones and a big red bow. 

Then the parents came out with a long cord with lights on it. They wrapped the cord around and around Scotty. When they turned on the lights, Scotty was suddenly wearing a shining coat of many colors. The kids laughed and pointed. 

Scotty the pine tree was the biggest and brightest Christmas tree they ever had.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.