Evergreen means patches of green in the barren winter forest, bringing cheer to gray landscapes. It is pine saplings catching heavy snow on their bowing boughs. My brother and I slipping under their short canopies and shaking. Our squeals filling the quiet woods as the snow plops from the needles and slides down our backs under our jackets. Then coming in soaking wet and red from the cold to drink mint or raspberry hot chocolate next to the wood-burning, iron-sided stove in the living room.

It is the pungent, woodsy aroma of Christmas. Riding in an old-style wagon bundled in coats and under blankets to pick out just the right one. Returning to the barn at the old tree farm for more hot cocoa next to a roaring fire. And bringing our perfect tree home to decorate and stare at for a few more weeks until presents would circle its base. It’s scaring the cat from the inner boughs and playing games with who could get the water into the tree stand without spilling or getting poked by prickly needles.

Evergreen is hiding in tall pine trees during games of Capture the Flag with my brother and our friends. Climbing down with sticky palms and bits of bark glued in our hair. It is a massive cedar tree in Norris that was the first tree we ever climbed. And a gigantic pine tree at my best friend Chelsea’s grandmother’s house that we snuck into when our dads weren’t around.

Evergreen is the richest color of the forest because it is always there. That deep hue that speaks of tenacity in all the seasons and lends shelter to the forest critters when all the other trees are sleeping. It is the perfect perch for snow and raindrops alike. The perfect hideout for bugs and squirrels. And the perfect backdrop for that stunning cardinal photo that’s on my bucket list of shots to nail before I leave this evergreen earth.

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