The Big Pine Cone

This is a pine cone sitting cockeyed on a dock.

It is a big pine cone, too. As a matter of fact, we determined that it was the biggest one we could find – and trust me, there were plenty.

So, why do I have a picture of an abnormally large pine cone sitting cockeyed on a dock? Could I not find any better photographs to tell you a story about my first summertime trip to Tahoe? A week chocked full of memories with old and new friends and the laughter of children in one of the most special places on Earth.

Yea sure, I have some of those. Actually a ton. As a matter of fact, I have over 300 and that doesn’t even count the ones I would have taken had my camera not slid off the bow of a sailboat and into the chilly depths of this simultaneously alpine-y and beach-y locale.

So why the over-endowed pine cone? Well, partly because I am simple-minded and partly because I have a rather un-evolved, some might even say reptilian sense of logic.

The exorbitant hugeness of the pine cone reminds me of just how blessed I am. It stands as a reminder that when I sat down at the slot machine of life and cranked the smooth ball on that lever, I hit little bunches of cherries all in a row. Sometimes, so much so that there isn’t a plastic cup big enough to catch my winnings. They just keep coming. Hey, when is she going to bring me another watered-down gin and tonic? Can you hear the bells ringing? Wait, did I also win the Chevy Malibu?

I realize that my winnings come in many forms. But this past week, they were all brought into clear view, one after another. And perhaps because I was open to seeing them, they were as crystal clear as the waters of Lake Tahoe. It’s as if life handed me a pair of bi-focals with which to view all my pine-scented blessings.

Oh, did I mention that this cone is a she. How do I know this? I don’t, I just made it up. Contrary to popular opinion, I have no skills in determining the sex of botanical structures. However, stating this helps me to make another simple-minded parallel.

Female cones are strong and designed for a specific purpose – to disperse the seeds contained within their scales. This process takes many years and is complete once all the scales have opened. You see this cone has only just begun. Only the uppermost portions have released their valuable contribution to future generations of conifers. She still has so much more left to do.

And lastly, note the positioning of this colossal conifer fruit. A wee bit cockeyed, wouldn’t you say? Some might say, this cone is imperfect. Unable to stand up straight. Lacking in natural perfection. But when you take the cone out of focus, you can see her context. She is ablaze in mountain light with clear waters crashing behind her. And the ancient rocks are all around her keep all things in place, just as they have done for millennia. She may be imperfect, but she is surrounded by sublime beauty.

This week, I started breathing again on the shores of Lake Tahoe. At first they were tepid and shallow. By the end, they were bounteous and barrel chested with a faint taste of piney goodness.

The big pine cone is a my simple-minded reminder.

A reminder that I am willfully imperfect and blessed beyond words. As the air fills my lungs, I am hanging on more loosely and open to the amazing things that are coming next.



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