Monday, October 05, 2009


If you're going pineconing (gathering a lot of pine cones), it's best to be accompanied by three young grandgirls. The grandies are especially handy if you're in your late sixties, when walking along scanning the ground while bending over and straightening up 600 times per hour or so doesn't hold much interest.

I can gather pine cones as well as the next elder guy, though, so I can get the job done when it comes to the crunch, but I'd rather stand and from the vantage of my full height direct the young ones (six hands!) to the best clusters of pinecones. They gather them so well because no one understands and appreciates pinecones like little kids do, new lives who can clearly see the magic in those little woody fireworky things. The little hands gather them up like treasure for no reason at all, so its a double delight to be doing it for a purpose that pleases loving grownups! Look how many I have in my bag! Bottom line though, they don't even need a purpose; they just need pine cones. Alas, I'm only daydreaming; the grandies are up north this time. How they would have loved it!

As it happened, Echo and I were still a bit early for pineconing, though not nearly as early as we were last week; quite a few more of the spiky wights had been brought down by the night wind. We use pinecones, as I've pointed out in previous pine cone excursion posts, as firestarters in our winter woodstove. They're beautiful, practical, functional and best of all, free. No. Best of all they give you an excuse to visit the near-empty beaches along this side of the Lake and walk beneath the old pine trees in the autumn wind.

The few kids from the city who are with their families at the pine beaches this time of year, especially the little girls (they love to gather free stuff and neaten the beach at the same time), who fill bags with pinecones, then at the end of the day as they head for the car to go home with their bags of treasure are told to dump them, because what in the world is a parent going to do with bags full of pinecones in a small apartment in the city?

So it happened that when we got to Omimaiko, the mother lode of pineconing, there was a girl there about 10 years old beneath the pines unhappily emptying her bag of hard-earned pinecones, kneeling on the sand and taking each bit of magic out of her big full bag, looking at it and tossing it over either shoulder or somewhere out in front of her, apparently trying to be mother nature by recreating a natural scattering, all the while talking to herself or perhaps to the pinecones she was having to surrender so unhappily-- she was delighted therefore when grownup Echo approached her with her own pine cone bag and, asking the why of it, said she would take the pinecones home herself, if that was ok.

And so we set to the largely pleasant task. Generally it's only kids - who still have that pure sense of amazement - that gather pinecones, though now and then there's an adult who sets out to gather pinecones for some legitimate, adultifiable reason (usually rooted in amazement, nonetheless). As the adult proceeds at the task, however, he becomes to a surprising extent the kid he used to be, the kid for whom pinecones were the jewels they really are, and worth gathering for that reason alone! How could he ever have forgotten that?


Tabor said...

This post really brought back a forgotten memory. As a child in the Rocky Mountains I used to collect pine cones for no other reason than their beauty and interest. Something in our genetics I guess.

joared said...

As usual, another delightful story you've written around what became a unique special experience.

So much of life can be that way but it is a matter of perspective.

Chancy said...

I still delight in gathering pine comes but on a much smaller scale than you Robert.

The pine cones I gather are just for their beauty. I love the huge pine cones and also the tiny ones.

A neighbor was visiting one recent afternood and she brought her Cavalier Spaniel dog, Fritz, with her. We were sitting in the living room when Fritz kept strolling in carrying pine cones in his mouth. I suddenly remembered the decorative brass planter in the den filled with cones which at the time was sitting on the hearth.

We laughed at Fritz who is used to gathering pine cones or sticks or rocks as he goes for his daily walk.

I moved the planter with the cones to the mantle where it still sits,enjoying a pride of place.

R. Brady said...

Everybody who pays attention loves pine cones.