I hate to confess it, but once upon a time the only use I knew for a pine needle was slipping one into the pant leg of a fellow camper, as a practical joke.
Like many a hiker, I had discovered – the hard way – the remarkable ability of pine needles to ascend pant legs thanks to their pointy tips and the built-in spring action of their shape, allowing them to move up but never down, in this way perfectly simulating the movement of whatever creeping creature you would least like to feel scurrying up your leg and heading for your private parts.
Sad to say, that was, for many years, the only use I knew of for a pine needle.
That was before I walked into the humble home of Marina Bañuelos in the village of Emiliano Zapata, which lies 20 kilometers west of Guadalajara, just along the western perimeter of the sprawling Primavera Forest.
Karina Aguilar, Director of Guadalajara’s network of Urban Parks, had mentioned Marina’s name to me on several occasions. “You should see what she does with pine needles,” she had told me. I confess I was imagining nothing more exciting than key chains, as I stood before Marina’s kitchen table, waiting for this humble, unassuming mother to show me her crafts.