“Like a California Pine Cone”

Written by Susan Fritz | Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 Posted in Blog

And eternity in an hour…

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, lived my two favorite people. It is a time that exists as clearly in my memory as if it were happening Now. I’d argue (perhaps another time…) that these realms are one and the same…but this would only serve to complicate a matter which is quite simple.

You see…

Once Upon a Time…

We were travelling through Northern California, Dan and I (#2-of-2 favorites, in order of knowing). Highway 101, the “Route 66 of the Redwoods” (I decided just now). We were on our way somewhere south, and since we had to start somewhere, we started from the North.

But this is a post about my mom; but these favorite lives are intertwined…

We were driving south, passing towns called Danville and Susanville…because there are no accidents, except if I were to beat you in a game of chess (I do not play chess).

We drove past snow-capped mountains—impossibly giant. I gasped when I saw Mount Shasta, this girl from the Rockies un-jaded by majesty (and it was the brand of “pop” my Mormon friends tended to favor…).

We stopped (I like to stop) because there’s nothing better than an unha/hurried road trip. And then I saw it—although there were many “its”: The Big Pine Cone.

It smells like a Caroline Pine Forrest!

its This meant something to both of us, although your year of birth may prevent understanding. I repeated it and repeated it on our search…

These were my true loves (in no particular order): forests, Dan, memorable scents, TV commercials, inside jokes, my mom, Oxford commas, and hunting for items of nature—in this case, a pine cone.

No one ever believed me, but she used to say, my mom (1-of-2 in chronological order of Favorites),

I don’t need you to buy me anything. Just get me a rock or a shell or—a pine cone (!) for my birthday/Christmas/Flag Day.

My mom asked for natural things; things that matter (her natural heart, beating in my own still).

And I believed her (she was believably unbelievable). Linda spoke a soulful truth I understood; a vocabulary for the “little things” (the only things) a thing I inherited.

I just love this rock, Duz! It looks like it’s smiling…!

And because Dan loved me—no, that’s not enough. Because he accepted me—not that either. Because he was clearly a Space Alien sent to this planet for a brief 30 years to show me the Impossible—he did not flinch when I picked up the largest pine cone in a 6-tree radius and said,

This one—we have to figure out a way to send this to my mom—without it breaking.

Challenge accepted. Dan was the brains behind th operation; I, the one with a flair for the dramatic.

A pine cone at least 3/4ths of a foot long. If only we could count the rings like its parent tree…

We drove on, the pine cone all but strapped into a seat belt in the back—but not, because that would have chipped its scales. In my memory, the cone is nestled between a scarf and a sweatshirt, tucked in like a newborn puppy in transit to its new home.

We fashioned a box buffer—made of toilet paper rolls and packing tape and Kleenex-brand tissue boxes. (I’d paid some kind of attention when my sister made her wonderous cardboard Barbie palaces back-in-the-day…). We placed the cushioned capsule into a “real” box for shipping; a handmade card included, drawn by Dan—one with an introduction from the Cone herself.

Greetings, Linda! I’m a cone from California! And I’m HUGE! Do I smell like a California Pine Forrest? (She would get this joke…the television raised us when there was no fast-forward).

More packing tape, and a trip to the post office for our precious tree fossil…

I can’t remember a time when I was happier.


My mom kept that pine cone for…for—well, I think it’s still somewhere (“If I didn’t know better, Duz, I’d think I was one of those people on that show, Hoarders…”). In any case, memories are gifts which keep on giving.

To see a World in a Pine Cone…

2 years…Rest in Peace, Mom: 11.29.1945-03.06.2017

One thought on ““Like a California Pine Cone”

  1. Sweet. I love this!! My mom also collected things. I move to Oregon and on her first visit she scours the acreage and the cemetery I took her to see (1860’s vintage) for pine cones. She took a huge garbage bag full back to California ( a huge no no) Biden under her belongings in the trunk!!!

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