My sister Christine gave me the first pinecone. She was in California for a job interview and brought the sizable cone back as a gift. I’ve held onto it for years.
Then I started collecting my own whenever I ventured to a part of this country that had pines. I’d pocket one or two as a free souvenir of camping trips and family visits.
Then I expanded my collection to pods and nuts. I keep them in a large basket on the dining room table. I marvel how a dried piece of nature can stay so beautiful so long.
Last Thursday, I was in my favorite second-hand store in Taos. I stop by on a frequent basis to test my luck — after all half of my wardrobe came from this store. I found nothing I wanted to wear — or anything I wanted to read among the used books.
But as I was ready to leave, I spotted two pinecones. These were not ordinary cones. They were 21 inches long and had a gentle curve. Both had wooden stems. I believe they are from sugar pines. One cone was in mint condition. The other had a couple of dings. For four bucks each. I bought the perfect cone.
At home I hosed the cone outside, let it dry and then placed it beside the basket of cones and pods. But after seeing the rather lopsided effect, I went back the next day for the mate.
It’s a silly thing really, collecting cones, pods and nuts. But I am also pleased just how easy it is to make me happy.
COUNTY FAIR UPDATE: I’ve kept my streak going of winning the Grand Champion Poultry at the Taos County Fair’s junior livestock auction. During the two years previous, I bought a goose and a duck. This year it was an araukana chicken, which produces green-shelled eggs.
I bid on behalf of the newspaper, my eighth time. The money goes to a good cause — the 4-H kid who raised the animal — and in my case the kid gets to keep the animal. Sage, the hen’s owner, was rather shy but his mother was rather enthused I spent $300 for the bird, which per pound makes it one of the most expensive animals there. But it was a deserving hen.
As for the vegetable exhibit, my medley faced tough competition but a pumpkin that magically grew in my garden — one of this year’s volunteers I wrote about earlier — took a blue ribbon. How about that?
And finally the photo above is the front of Orlando’s, a favorite restaurant in Taos, where I always order green and red chile — or Christmas as we say here.