The Alien Tree
The Cunningham fir, cunninghamia lanceolota, is known to all who visit Shady Pond as a
peculiar tree of unusual beauty (from a distance). It is characterized by widely spaced regular
whorls and very open branching. But its best known feature is the stickiness of the rigid tapered
needles that cover its branches. To complete the picture, understand that these sharp needles are
fully capable of drawing blood. So for the adventuresome souls who cut one for Christmas,
decorating must be done with gloved hands, a difficult task to say the least.
Obviously, the Cunningham Fir has rarely seen the inside of a living room or den at Christmas. But not long
ago, a young lady came trudging out of the field claiming that she had found the most perfect of
all the trees. From her description, I knew she was referring to one of the Cunninghams. I
questioned her at some length suspecting that she was deranged or possibly even masochistic.
Realizing that I had serious doubts about her choice, she finally explained her intentions.
She disclosed that she was one of a group of Trek-ies and that they were decorating for their
annual Christmas party. She said, "We need an alien tree. Actually, we need a Klingon
Christmas Tree. And that tree out there in the field is IT. It's just perfect. The other members
will love it. Please measure it and tell me how much it will cost."
We cut that Cunningham and loaded it. She left the Farm at WARP-2 with SHIELDS UP. And as she drove out of sight, I
could hear her make an entry in her CAPTAIN'S LOG for STAR DATE 2732.4.