* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
Laura the Loblolly Pine and Priscilla the Ponderosa Pine had been growing all season long. Their vibrant green needles had transformed into golden brown and soon lost their tight grip to the limbs, resulting into a steady fall to the ground below. From a distance, it appeared to be snowing elongated brown flakes from above when the wind blew through the grove.
It had been a beautiful spring followed by a very seasonable summer. The squirrels and birds had enjoyed their branches for rest and play. Several times during the year a few of the trees had been an escape for cats being chased by one of their neighborhood canine friends. The deer frequenting the woods had used the pine trees’ trunks to sharpen their antlers. The cooler weather found people visiting the ground underneath their sturdy limbs. They would bring large tarps into the grove, rake the golden brown pine needles resting comfortably on the ground, and carry back to their homes to use for mulch around their shrubbery.
All through the growing season, Laura and Priscilla had been committed to grow more pinecones than all of the other pine trees inhabiting the grove. With each passing week, Laura and Priscilla would shout out over the treetops for all to hear how many new pinecones were adorning their limbs. Beginning late in spring and throughout the summer, they eagerly soaked in the admiration of the people who marveled at their abundant display of cones; the attention made their sap rise to new heights.
The people would say, “Look at the pinecones on those two trees! Wow! Have you ever seen anything like that?” Many times these admirers would return later in the day or week and bring their friends to see Laura and Priscilla. They basked in all of the attention. Hearing all the compliments added fuel to their determination to grow as many pinecones as possible before the end of the season. They had even been overheard by several of the other trees in the forest of attempting to figure out a way that would help them keep their pinecones all the way through the winter so they could have even more next growing season.
Laura and Priscilla were confident that they would stand out from the rest of the pine trees.
The birds soon noticed that Laura and Priscilla became irritated when they landed on their branches and inadvertently knocked off a pinecone. Laura and Priscilla began shooing the birds away each time one attempted to land. They would move their branches ever so slightly as the birds were preparing to perch, thus preventing them from getting a solid footing.
After a while, the birds avoided Laura and Priscilla entirely.
The two trees began to treat the squirrels in a similar manner. As they scurried up Laura and Priscilla’s trunks, the two trees would shake their limbs back and forth until the squirrels became dizzy and jumped to another tree to keep from falling to the ground, or they would shake their higher branches hard enough to make a loose pinecone fall on the heads of the squirrels.
The squirrels, just like the birds, began avoiding the outstretched limbs of the two trees.
Even though there were no visible signs hanging on the trees, it was understood by all that Laura and Priscilla were quite plainly displaying messages such as No Trespassing, Don’t Touch, and No Climbing from the bottom of their truck to the tips of their tallest branches.
The other pine trees standing tall in the grove could not understand why Laura and Priscilla were obsessed with having so many pinecones. One day, they asked the two trees, “Why do you want so many cones? Aren’t your branches getting heavy? You don’t like for the squirrels to play in your limbs anymore, and you don’t like the birds to land on your branches either. You complain when the wind blows, and now you don’t want winter to come. All of this because you are worried about your pinecones…but more importantly worried about losingyour pinecones. Have you forgotten that is exactly what we are supposed do? We grow our cones in the spring and lose them in the winter. Our pinecones are the seeds for the future; they help us to bring more pine trees into the world. More pine trees in the world means more oxygen for people to breath, means more limbs for birds and animals for play and rest, means the world keeps building since our wood is the number one renewable resource used in the construction industry. Don’t you see what dropping your cones really means? You have got it all wrong! Instead of trying to hold onto your pinecones, you need to drop them!”
Laura and Priscilla turned up their pine needles at the mention of dropping their cones. “Oh, you all are just jealous,” they scoffed. “You just wish you had as many pinecones as we have, but you just can’t grow them like we can. Your limbs are not as pretty as ours, so you want us to be just like you.”
As the winter season approached, Laura and Priscilla continued to hold onto every pinecone they possibly could. All of the other pine trees were nearly barren, but Laura and Priscilla stood out from the rest with their limbs full of pinecones. Their branches were beginning to droop from the strain created by the weight of so many cones.
One day a very dark cloud formed in the north and the temperature abruptly plummeted. The pine trees huddled together to stay warm, as most of their needles had dropped to the ground below. Reluctantly, Laura and Priscilla huddled with the others all the while holding tight to their pinecones. The other trees called out to Laura and Priscilla, “You two may want to let loose of your pinecones. It looks like a storm is coming our way.”
The two trees shouted out over the mounting wind, “We will be fine!”
All of a sudden, the wind began to gust as cold rain began to pelt the grove of trees. They began to bend from the continuous howl of the wind, and they locked their roots together under the surface of the ground to give each other support from the onslaught of the Nor’easter. Snaps, crackles, and pops within the grove of pine trees became to accompany the raging storm. Laura and Priscilla found themselves being tossed to and fro under the weight of their fully loaded branches.
As they clung onto the pinecones for dear life, the other trees shouted out, “Drop your cones, girls! We cannot hold you up much longer! You have got to drop them!”
“Never!” screamed Priscilla.
“Priscilla, come on!” Laura urged in desperation. “They’re right. We won’t make it if we don’t drop our cones!”
“No!” Priscilla yelled. “You can drop yours if you want to, but I’m keeping mine no matter what!”
In frenzied moment of clarity, Laura rapidly shook her limbs as a large gust of wind sailed through, and let her cones fly, grabbing hold of the other trees’ roots. It appeared as if small brown prickly missiles were catapulting through the air. Priscilla continued to grasp her cones tightly with all her might.
All of a sudden a thunderous clap filled the air, but it was not the storm. It was Priscilla. She had snapped. The other trees took in the sight of her lying on the cold damp ground with pinecones scattered all around her. No longer was she adorned in all her pinecone splendor, but was just like all of the other pine trees in the grove…except she was face down while the rest were standing tall and unscathed from the storm. The other pine trees were sad about Priscilla, but glad that Laura learned before it was too late that…
* * * * * * *
UNITED WE STAND
DIVIDED WE FALL
* * * * * * *
*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!