Albuquerque neighborhood’s painted pinecone tree lifts spirits during pandemic

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) -One northeast Albuquerque neighborhood is doing what it can to keep spirits up during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s doing so one pinecone at a time. Like many, the pandemic has changed the way the usually active Albuquerque couple, Jim and Shirley live.

“Shirley hadn’t been able to play golf this summer. She plays two-to-three days a week. And I’m a skeet instructor. I can’t shoot,” Jim said. However, he does have a new morning routine.

“We come out and get the newspaper and we look at how many pinecones we got,” Jim said. It’s a routine that all stemmed from one act of kindness from some of Jim and Shirley’s youngest neighbors.

“Shirley and I adore them,” he said. “I explained to them, that we couldn’t hug on them anymore because of the virus…The 4-year-old had jumped off his bike, his tricycle and he had a little box in the back and he got a pinecone out and give it to me.” The act of kindness gave Jim an idea.

“That show of effection and kindness stunned us all,” he said. “I said, you know, I’m going to paint this and hang it on my tree and if you have any more pinecones that they pick up in the park over here, bring them to me and I’ll paint them and I’ll make a string.” And they did.

“I started painting and they kept bringing pinecones every day,” Jim said. The kids leave the pinecones on a large rock for Jim and Shirley to wake up to.

“This gives us something to get up for every morning. Just wonderful,” Jim said. And just like the tree the pinecones hang on, that one act of kindness grew.

“Welcome to the COVID-19 Pinecone Tree Of Love,” he said. “Other people wanted to know about it, I put a sign up and… it’s turned out to be a neighborhood project. both children and adults.”

Jim said his tree has more than 160 pinecones on it. He has gotten so many pinecones, he has started giving strings to neighbors.

“It’s a neighborhood thing.,” he said. “When the wind blows, the dance…They hop and they’re so pretty.” It reminds everyone passing through the neighbhorhood, that one kind gesture in a time that’s felt so dark, can bring lasting light.

“I’ve got a new mission in life,” Jim said. He is creating strings of pinecones to hang on the trees of neighbors who have contracted COVID-19. He said he plans to keep the COVID-19 Pinecone Tree Of Love up for as long as the pandemic lasts.

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