WriteOut Pinecone

view of Cole Park in autumn
on Flickr

Getting Excited for WriteOut 2023

Pinecone: An Exploration

I picked up what I thought was the tip of a pinecone. 

It looked like a little autumn blossom in brown, so I placed it next to my bronze bird, as if the sparrow were picking out its seeds.

But today I researched for my poem— pinecones and the type of cedar tree that is my desktop wallpaper and muse for NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] each year. I love the picture, which is shown at the top of this page, with its view to the white wooden footbridge among all the colorful autumn trees of maple and locust mixed in with pines. Two of my favorite are what I had called cedar trees, in the foreground of the photo with the curving, magical branches. The one on the right, sadly, is no longer there, cut down a day after I luckily had taken the photo in 2016 just for an inspiration for that year’s NaNoWriMo. I have the memory in the photo and my mind and my novel.

And today that research for pinecones found myself down a trail of nature’s stories. My pinecone is not the tip of a Ponderosa [Yellow] Pine pinecone, large with curved spiky spines; it is not the pinecone of a Douglas Fir, with its “mouse tails” showing at each scale. It is the cone of that special muse in my photo, a member of the family Cupressaceae, the cypress trees. It’s not a western red cedar of the Thuja genus, although originally placed there and still often called the Thuja orientalis. It is now called Platycladus orientalis, its own species. Although from Asia, it is drought resistant so it fits in our semi-arid ecosystem. It also fits with the original planting of this town’s trees.

In the 1930’s as Grand Coulee Dam, which is across the view from our window, the federal government hired landscapers to build the town where I live now and the engineers lived then: west Coulee Dam, where the Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River. The town was built like a park with tree lined streets and rock walls, owned and cared for by the federal government until 1959, when the contract ended and the town returned to the public. But planting the trees would include many varieties from around the world, as long as they’d survive on our dry area.

And so now, with some history and botany, I know the little pinecone is a full pinecone, not a tip of one, and that it is from the cypress tree in my photo that inspires me each year as I write yet another novel of nature and people and fairies and dragons.

And so, a poem. Plus, if you click here to Daves Garden Blog, you can learn more about pinecones with links to some holiday pinecone crafts.


bronze bird and small pinecone
on Flickr

Small Things 3

Not a large Ponderosa,
The yellow pine
With its curved prickly spines;
Nor a Douglas fir
With its mouse tails
beneath the cone’s scales;
But a small blossom
of scale pairs,
Thuja orientalis—
an autumn flower.

Sheri Edwards
10.05.23 278.365.23

Join In !

This post is part of the October WRITEOUT adventure, October 8 through the 22nd, partnership of the National Writing Project and the National Park Service — a choice to enjoy the outdoors with poetry, prose, and parks for Write Out 2023. Organized as a public invitation to get out and create, supported by a series of free online activities, Write Out invites educators, students, and families to explore national parks and other public spaces. The goal is to connect and learn through place-based writing and sharing.  Check out this infographic for the flow of the two weeks.

Learn more and sign up: https://writeout.nwp.org

This is my sixth year with WriteOut with all my WriteOut posts here.