Today was the first day the boys have volunteered. I have been on the look out in the past for opportunities, but I just haven’t found much that was very conducive to a group of young children. So I was delighted to receive an email from the arboretum at Saint John’s asking for help collecting pinecones. I asked the boys if they’d like to help and they enthusiastically agreed. Of course today was one of those days (again) where everything was disagreeable and there was a great deal of protest this afternoon about going. But we went easing the way with the incentive of having a snack on the way there in order to give them the necessary energy to work hard.

It wasn’t exactly what I pictured. I first thought collecting pinecones meant simple picking all the pinecones up off the ground. In fact they wanted them for germinating, so they wanted only the best pinecones. This was one of those times I used my children to hide my own ignorance. What does one look for in a pine cone? I had no idea, so I asked if she would instruct the boys in how to pick the best ones. Firm and not broken was the short answer.

I was struck at the variety of pine cones. Tiny ones, long ones, round ones, skinny ones. Honestly I have not (yet) studied the difference on the pine family, but this study will soon take place. The boys and I picked up a good many. Whether or not they will pass the quality assurance inspection I don’t know, but we had a good time and the outdoor air was good for us. When Adam got off work he got Gabriel and Sebastian and took them on home leaving me a good bit freer.

The boys took advantage of a new audience and began instructing anyone who would listen on the subject of superheroes. The college age students were amused and humored them. The white haired lady was fairly quiet and perhaps a bit taken aback by my rambunctious boys swinging bags of pine cones. Perhaps she was anticipating a quiet afternoon in the woods. I did comment that we usually didn’t see a great deal of wildlife on our nature walks.

The geese must have molted recently based on the great number of feathers lying around. The boys were delighted at this and collected feathers as well as pine cones. The most remarkable find was a long goose feather with a large pile of scat attached to (thankfully) the opposite end of the feather Jack picked up. He didn’t ask to bring that one home! Any idea of what to do with the collection of rocks, sticks, leaves, and feathers the boy accumulate would be welcome! This year at least they are not quite so attached. Last year they loved the fuzzy weeds that grew. Every time we would go out we would come home with a fuzzy for everyone. The fuzzies had to be watered and nursed. One night in particular Isaac was not going to bed and was filling a glass of water for fuzzy that he wanted to keep by his bed. I insisted he not and was accused through tears that I didn’t care about fuzzy and wanted fuzzy to die. Now if something is smashed or broken or dried out I can usually just say so and they will let it go. But I am starting to ramble so I’ll stop for now.


About Wendy McCollum

I am a single mom to five wonderful boys. Life is an adventure, with many twists and turns. We live in hope, always, for our great God can redeem all things. There are so many funny and precious moments that slip by too fast. Perhaps here I can save them for when my own memory fails.
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