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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, October 27, 2023

My mother sent me a gift and practically apologized for it ahead of time.

It’s not the usual tea or honey…

Her voice trailed off a bit, as if she had to figure out how to explain this gift to me.

But, well, I thought you’d get a kick out of it… I just didn’t want you to think I was crazy.

I was intrigued. And perplexed. What could this gift be that had her both stuttering and giggling?

When the notification came today that I had a package in the mailroom I stopped everything and ran down to get it.

Here’s a thing you should know about me and the mailroom: I’m probably solely responsible for the emails they send out periodically telling residents to check their boxes daily so they aren’t too full for the mail people to deliver.

When we get a parcel, we have three days to pick it up before they start charging you rent for the box. I always pick it up on the third day.

But when my mother sends gifts I manage to make my way down three flights of stairs, around the corner, into the mailroom and to the box. Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways.

I opened the box and it certainly wan’t tea or honey.

It was a box full of freshly collected pinecones, all white tips and pine-scented sap.

If my mother had seen my smile when I opened the box, she would not have felt compelled to explain herself. I understood perfectly.

Pinecones beckon to her, much like seashells do me. When the evergreens shed them each fall, she hears them calling from the yard. They beg to be admired. They beg to be collected. They want to be in her bag or box or basket. And she can’t bear to see one on the ground and leave it there, forlorn, unloved.

My mother may have a lot of pinecones.

The down side is they take up marginally more space than seashells, so she occasionally has to make room for dinner and sleeping and people, which requires finding good homes for them.

Today I fully accepted my role as Protector Of The Pinecones. I ooohed and ahhhhed over them a bit. Stuck my face in the box and inhaled the divine pine scent of them. Picked them up and got sap all over my hands and then inhaled that. Appreciated the tall thin ones, and the short fat ones.

We don’t have many pinecones around here. The ones I’ve found are usually pretty squat and not altogether plentiful. That makes these all the more a treasure. They need a place of honor but I haven’t decided what that is yet. Should I put them in a bowl in the center of the table? Or should I scatter them around on shelves and windowsills so everywhere I go is a little burst of joy?

Who needs art when you have pinecones?

I called my mother to thank her and we giggled a bit together over her need for All The Pinecones. I assured her that I didn’t think she was crazy one bit.

And because the universe occasionally bestows instead of conspires, just yesterday as I was talking with my friend Kaarina, she shared something she found on the internet and wanted to try: growing a pinecone.

Turns out you can plunk a fresh pinecone into a little bit of soil in a cup and if you water it occasionally it will sprout a little mini-tree. When I heard that, I wanted to plant a pinecone immediately, but since we aren’t exactly pinecone central here, I didn’t know where I’d be able to find one.

I figured one of these days I’d walk around the neighborhood and see if one got blown over from the few remaining trees that haven’t become victims of all the construction around here. I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about it.

And then my mother’s box arrived.

After I paid sufficient homage to the pinecones in the box, I got an empty candle jar that I’ve been saving and not known what to do with. I borrowed some soil from Alice and chose the cutest little pinecone and set it right in. It’s adorable.

It sits on my windowsill where eventually, maybe, it will grow a little tuft of needles. In the meantime it will look very pretty and remind me that tea and honey is nice, but sometimes what you really need is a pinecone.

Photo: pinecone bliss.