Thursday, December 8, 2011

Related to a squirrel?

One of my Christmas presents to my friends and family is the jars of pinion nuts that I collected in the fall. Each pint requires about an hour of laboriously picking them up from under the pinion trees that only produce a crop every three years.

Picking becomes somewhat addictive. Every morning when I wasn't going to town to work at St. Mark's, I would go out for "an hour" which would turn into two or three. This time spent was stolen from the hours I should have been painting or a much less preferred my house. Consequently a pantry shelf filled up with jars of nuts, and the dust bunnies propagated under the beds.

I shared the forest around my house with members of the Sandia Pueblo who were also out picking every day for over a month. Traditionally they have gathered pinions every third fall for hundreds of years in the Sandia Mountains to help provision their homes for the winter in addition to hunting, and harvesting beans, squash, chile and corn.

There is a flock of wild turkeys here as well that have migrated south from the San Felipe Pueblo immediately to the north. In the old days, those turkeys would have been much more wary than they are now as most of the land surrounding our property is National forest with no hunting allowed.

This is just a few of the jars left over from Christmas.  Not enough to last the two of us for the next three years, but I suppose that makes them all the more precious.

Here is a closer look at the pinion cone after it has opened to drop its nuts. 

And below is my prized carved wooden angel by Ben Ortega, a noted New Mexico Santero (saint maker) who is no longer living.  He would gather naturally aged and twisted branches of pinion, juniper and cedar to make the bodies and carve the wings, faces, and hands from pine, all native to his surroundings.  His traditional style is carried on by his family.  The angel is leaning against a small pinion tree that was cut to add to our decorations for Christmas. 

The source of most of my jars are recycled "Cervantes" chile jars.  We eat lots of chile in New Mexico.  This is "green" chile picked and jarred before it turns red.  See my daughter, Camille's  blog, The Vintique Object, for photos of dishes prepared with both red and green chile.

1 comment:

  1. You have a nice house, Mom. I can't imagine all the work it took to pick that many pinions!


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