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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bridges of Pine Cones

Overcast; chance of rain. The one condition that keeps normal people inside, watching T.V., or talking on the phone. The combination of grey sky and precipitation normally produces antagonistic feelings toward the outdoors..

Unless you’re signed up to help run a booth at an Eco-Fair. Then the color of the sky and those pesky raindrops are moot points. Whether drought or monsoon; snowstorm or hurricane you press on, knowing you’re fulfilling a higher purpose.

At this particular Eco-Fair, that higher purpose was simply assisting kids make Pine Cone bird feeders. It’s a simple concept: just dip the Pine Cone in Peanut butter and roll it in birdseed and there you have the perfect bird magnet. It’s a simple trick that really connects kids with the natural world. And you’ve just made the world a better place for a lot of undernourished Squirrels, too.

All through that gloomy, damp day, kids came like an assembly line. Spread; roll; smile; repeat. This went on for a good hour or so before the assembly line broke down. Something got caught in a gear and the whole thing malfunctioned. There, right in front of our table was a gentle elderly lady, probably in her late seventies, early eighties.

Status Quo flew through the window. The average age of the participants shot through the roof.

“I’ll make a feeder, if you don’t mind,” intoned the thin vestiges of a whisper. I carefully selected a prime cone, handing it gently to this new volunteer.

Then all time froze. Those fragile, gossamer hands holding the pine cone suddenly became as they were fifty years earlier. The wedding bells rang loud and clear, scaring all the pigeons out of the bell tower. Her ears once again heard the songs of the birds that sang solely for her as she held the hand of her newly betrothed.

Then the hands aged a little, and she heard the cooing of the Mourning Doves that cried out as she threw dirt on a casket that contained her true love.

The senses of this world overwhelmed her with comfort and peace through her joyous times, her traumatic times, and those times when words would not express what was happening inside her soul. All of these things came back as soon she held that pine cone. A bridge spanning over half a century was built in a matter of moments.

However, the present burst rudely upon the scene, as it always does, and suddenly her hands were aged and withered, her hearing had dramatically diminished, and the sky was overcast again.

“Thank you,” she quietly said as she walked away with her feeder and her ancient memories in tow.

For an instant, that woman built a bridge of pinecones to the past, across which flooded all those wonderful memories that nature gave her. And as she walked away, she was ready to cross a new bridge, one that would provide the most enriching memories that would ever grace her aging mind.

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