I suck in a gulp of thick, pine-scented air, faced with the difficult question—which one. I tick through the usual criteria—fullness, tightly attached needles, correct height. Beyond that the trouble begins for me when I consider needle length, color, tightness of branches.
Needles crunch under the soles of my shoes as I slowly pass down the row, hoping one tree chooses me. Those I don’t give a full inspection slyly begin to stretch their postures more erect before I turn completely away. If I pause to admire one, branches brush past the backs of my legs until I turn around and give that tree a careful look.
Ahead in the center of the display, I hear voices in foreign languages—hurried bits of anxious dialog that quiet as I grow near.
One small blue spruce tries his best to stretch taller but cannot reach up to his neighbors, so I lean in and whisper, “If you talk to me, I’ll take you home.”
I wait, determined, and the nearby treetops bend over the tiny spruce until finally a gentle tinkling begins deep inside at its trunk, radiating to the tips of the boughs at my side. I caress the singing branch, then wave an arm to the shop owner.