An evergreen coniferous tree with needle-shaped leaves. Aside from their beauty, pine trees are also important sources of timber, tar, pitch, turpentine, Pine-Sol, and those little automobile air fresheners.

When I was a kid, we had a white pine tree dead center in the middle of the backyard. It wasn't large enough to climb on, but my sister and I used to go out during the summer and have picnics under it about once a week. We'd sit on an old blanket underneath its branches, eat grilled cheese sandwiches, and drink grape-flavored Funny Face (that was a Kool-Aid clone back in the '70s -- we preferred it because the packages had funny faces on 'em and the flavors had names like Goofy Grape. That's a primo enticement when you're in kindergarten). We'd watch birds flying in the air and wave at our mother when she looked out at us from the kitchen window. Nothing important happened, but we both loved those picnics and that tree in particular.

When I was in fifth grade, that tree got struck by lightning. It was split in two and burned a little, but the rain kept the fire from getting too strong. My dad harvested what parts of the tree were salvageable, and my uncle carved them into little pine tree medallions. My sister wore hers around her neck for the next four years before she finally put it into her cedar chest.

Since college, we've both taken our medallions out of storage, and they've been hung in places of honor in every house we've lived in. On nice summer days, I'll sometimes hang mine on the porch and sit under it for a half-hour, eating a grilled cheese sandwich and watching birds fly.