For some reason, growing up in the northern midwest wasn't something that I was really proud of. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't something I bragged about either. I suppose when you see pictures of cities as fabulously glitzy as New York, Chicago and Miami, it's easy to think your state lacks a certain... luster. However, something changed in my reluctant heart about two years ago. My daughter started a new school outside of the city, and that meant daily drives past tree nurseries, barns, apple orchards, and a few chance encounters with deer (not always alive, but deer nonetheless). Another thing. Lots and lots of pine trees. They stand out so much more when they aren't competing with buildings, don't they? There is something so comforting to me about these trees... slightly odd, I know. Odd as in wanting to wrap a scarf around the teeny tiny ones that wouldn't even constitute as a table-top Christmas tree and giving it a hug. Yeah... that kind of odd.