It was a dull, overcast day in early January, and the girls had been inside all morning. Darcy was feeling restless, so she persuaded the sisters Ashleigh and Esther to go outside with her. At first the clean, piney air seemed cold. Esther and Ashleigh shivered together near a tree, while Darcy scoped things out. A light misty rain had fallen the day before, and there were still drops clinging to the pine needles. The ground was damp, but underneath the shelter of the trees, the rocks were still dry.
“Look, you guys,” called Darcy. “These rocks are great for climbing!”
The sisters watched as Darcy quickly scrambled to the top.
“Be careful…” Ashleigh couldn’t help cautioning, but to herself she thought, why bother? It’s like telling a mountain goat to be careful!
“Look, there’s a bench!” called Darcy. She jumped down from the rock and all three quickly climbed up.
“I wish it would snow,” sighed Darcy. “Then we could build a snowman.”
“Do you wanna build a snowman…?” sang Ashleigh, and they both laughed.
“I mean if it’s going to be grey and cold,” continued Darcy, “it might as well be snowing.”
“I don’t know,” said Esther. “I love the snow, but I think it’s nice this way too. Listen to how quiet the forest is today. It’s like the clouds are muffling everything.”
All three girls listened. The forest was quiet; all they could hear was a squirrel climbing a tree in a nearby yard.
“Look at the twigs on that bush,” said Ashleigh. She jumped down and went to examine them. “Aren’t they pretty? All spindly and delicate. I’d like to–”
“–draw them?” finished Darcy, and she and Esther laughed. Ashleigh was always saying that whenever she admired something.
“It’s true!” Ashleigh protested. “I can’t help it, I do!”
“You should!” said Darcy quickly. “I wish I wanted to draw stuff, but I don’t. I’d rather ride a bike, or go roller skating.”
“I think looking at the world through an artist’s eyes makes it even nicer,” explained Ashleigh. “It helps me see things fresh. It’s like how Esther is always thinking of words for things. It’s fun… and kind of exciting, in a way.”
“What are you making up now, Esther?” asked Darcy. Esther had scrambled up a low boulder and was perched on top, staring off into the forest.
“Nothing much,” said Esther. “I just like the way the day looks, today. It’s soft, and clean, and fresh. All the colors are soft. And there are so many textures too. It’s like a great big winter quilt.”
“What about the way trees smell?” Darcy said. “I’ve read that some pine trees smell like pineapple or vanilla.” She put her nose to the tree trunk.
“This one just smells like bark.”
“Let me see,” said Ashleigh.
“You’re right–damp bark. Maybe it’s the wrong kind. Or maybe it doesn’t smell because it’s too cold. Trees are nice, though, even when they don’t smell like pineapple.”
“Yep,” said Darcy. “They’re so big and solid.” The two girls stood with their backs against the pine trunk.
“What should we do?” sighed Darcy. “It’s too cold for a picnic.”
“Let’s go back inside,” said Ashleigh. “We can make hot cocoa and draw…”
“…And listen to music,” added Darcy.
“…And watch movies!” chimed in Esther.
“And play board games,” said Darcy.
“And read,” said Esther.
“And COLOR!” shouted all three girls together. They laughed, and turned back toward the house.
“Look,” said Ashleigh. “The pine needles are the same color as Esther’s hair.”
Esther looked down. The needles were springy under her feet. “Look!” she said. She lay down and closed her eyes.
“It’s a forest bed! If I was a deer, this is where I’d sleep.” The girls laughed.
Just then the forest brightened; the clouds had lifted while the girls were playing, and the now the sun peeked out for the first time. The three girls looked around: everywhere, tiny drops were sparkling.
“Wow,” breathed Darcy. “It’s like the grass is covered with diamonds.”
Darcy is the American Girl of the Year 2015 Grace doll; Ashleigh is the American Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle doll; and Esther is the American Girl of the Year 2008 Mia doll.