Little Pine’s Halloween
by Nina Marshall (now Nina Tisara)
Alexandria, VA – Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a story Nina wrote when her children were young. The conclusion will appear in the November Zebra. Children are invited to submit illustrations of the story for possible publication in a future edition of The Zebra.
One day near the end of October, two boys walked through a patch of trees near a creek. A small pine growing near his mother heard the boys talking about Halloween. There was going to be a party at school. The children would wear costumes. One boy would dress up as a pirate, the other as a cowboy.
The little pine tree listened. That would be fun, he thought. He looked up at his mother and asked, “Can we have a Halloween party too?”
”Well,” said his mother, “I suppose so.”
“Does that mean yes?” asked Little Pine.
“Before we can have a party,” his mother cautioned, “We should plan whom to invite. Think about what to do for fun. And think about what to wear. That’s a lot of thinking for a little pine, isn’t it?”
Little Pine grew quiet and began to think. He could invite the boys he heard talking, but they were already gone and might not be back in time. Or the birds who sometimes stopped in his branches, but they weren’t there right then and might not be back in time either. He thought and thought and finally fell asleep.
Next morning, Little Pine awakened his mother with more talk of the Halloween party. He must have been thinking about it in his sleep!
“Mother,” he said, “I think we could invite our neighbors to our party. We could invite Sugar Maple and Yellow Poplar and Old Oak. Do you think they would come? Do you, Mother?”
She smiled and said, “You could certainly ask them. Have you also thought about what we would do for fun?”
Little Pine answered proudly, “I have thought and thought about it. We could ask Mr. Wind to play tunes through our leaves and needles and make music for us to dance to.”
Mother Pine said, “Little Pine, I am pleased with your plans. These are good ideas. Why not go right now and ask our neighbors if they would like to come to your party?”
And Little Pine did. He asked the straight, tall poplar, the sugar maple, and the old oak tree. “Yes, yes,” said Poplar, “I’d love to come.” “Oh, goody, what fun!“ said Sugar Maple, “yes, I’d like to come.” Old Oak tree said, “It was very nice of you to think of me, Little Pine. I can’t remember when I was last invited to a party. I will surely be there.”
Little Pine was very happy with his plans and told his mother everything his neighbor trees said.
Then Poplar tree said, “Hey fellows, what are you all going to wear to Little Pine’s party? What will I wear to Little Pine’s party? Let’s see, October has been a dry, cool month, but it rained last week and some of my leaves have turned yellow. Could I go as a banana? Sugar Maple, what do you think about me going as a banana?”
“You could go as a bunch of bananas,” said Sugar Maple, “but you look most like a bunch of tulips. If your leaves stay yellow, that’s the costume for you.”
“I guess you’re right,” said Poplar. “What will you dress up as?”
Sugar Maple said, “I really don’t know, but my top leaves are almost as yellow as yours. If it rains in a day or two, my bottom leaves should be bright red. I could go as a campfire, but that doesn’t sound much like Halloween. Red and yellow, red and yellow, or maybe red, yellow, and green. It’s not as easy as it seems. Hey, Old Oak, how about you?” asked Sugar Maple, hoping to get some ideas from him.
Old Oak had been standing by, just listening. Oak’s leaves were already brown. There was nothing fancy about him. “Brown, brown,” he muttered. “What’s brown? I could be a big, brown bear. Why not?”
Another night passed with Little Pine happy and excited about his plans. Sugar Maple and Poplar hoped the weather would stay cool so their leaves would stay pretty. Old Oak was thinking, I’m a nice old oak tree. I don’t need a costume, or maybe I’ll be an old brown bear after all.
When the morning sun touched Little Pine’s branches, he was worried, and remembering something he’d forgotten. “Mother, Mother,” Little Pine cried, “what will we wear to the party?”
“That question will take a lot of thinking,” said Mother Pine. “But no matter how much you think, your needles won’t change colors like those of Poplar Tree, Sugar Maple, and Old Oak.”
“Mother, I don’t want to have the party, after all,” said Little Pine. “How can I have a Halloween party with no costume? You tell the neighbors we won’t have the party.”
“But, Little Pine,” his mother answered, “your neighbors are happy because of the party you’re planning. They would be disappointed if you changed your mind now. Let’s think about costumes for a while longer.”
“If I wished really hard, could my needles change color?” asked Little Pine. “No matter how much you wish, your needles won’t change colors like Poplar Tree, Sugar Maple, and Old Oak’s leaves,” said Mother Pine. “Oh, drat,” said Little Pine.
“Perhaps if you find out what the guests are wearing,” said Mother Pine, “you can get some ideas for your costume.” “Okay, okay,” said Little Pine. But he wasn’t happy.
Little Pine asked Old Oak first. “What are you wearing to the Halloween party, Old Oak?”
“It’s hard to decide,” said Old Oak. “Best I can think of is a brown bear. How does that sound to you?”
“You’ll be a great old bear,” said Little Pine. “What of you, Poplar? What will you wear?”
“I’m dressing as either a bunch of bananas or yellow tulips. I haven’t decided which one yet.”
Last of all, Little Pine asked Sugar Maple. “What will be your costume? Your leaves are beautiful shades of red and yellow. How I wish mine were so beautiful.”
“Little Pine, I just can’t think of anything. My mind is empty. Do you have any suggestions?”
Little Pine said, “If I were red and golden yellow, I would be a bunch of ripe apples, or a campfire, or an autumn sunset, or I’d pretend I was a fine colonial lady dressed in a rustling gown, or a ….”
“Stop, stop, you’ve given me an idea. I’d make a beautiful colonial lady. Oh, thank you, Little Pine. How clever you are! Now let’s see if I can help you,” said Sugar Maple. “Have you thought of … no, that wouldn’t do … how about … no, that’s no good. I can see you have a problem, Little Pine.
“Now wait a moment. I think I’ve hit on something. You’ve invited Snow, haven’t you? We could wait for Snow to come and fill up your branches, and you could be a cloud.”
“Thanks for trying,” said a disappointed Little Pine. “But clouds just aren’t part of Halloween.”
Mosaic artist/photographer Nina Tisara is the founder of Living Legends of Alexandria.
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