REALITY BITES: How much would you pay for a spider in an ice cube?

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

It’s official. The world has gone crazy. I’ve suspected for some time we were headed for a global mental meltdown, but even I am surprised it came about this quickly.

No, I’m not talking about the election results; I’m writing this the Monday before election day, so at this point I have no idea whether the country is doomed to a four-year nosedive or is now on the road to rapid and total recovery.

I say the world has gone crazy because of the pine cones.

My postage stamp-sized back yard is surrounded by pine trees, towering, evergreen sentinels that provide shade, protection from the wind, and about a gajillion pine cones on the lawn every autumn.

I rake most of the cones along with a seemingly endless supply of dead leaves from the ancient oaks which also crowd my property on three sides.

Pine cones are a nuisance, but not a big one. Just one more chore to take care of before the snow flies.

Or so I thought.

Then I saw — and this is the point at which I realized the world has gone crazy — a bag of pine cones at the store. For sale.

There was nothing special about these pine cones. They had not been decorated with glitter, covered with sweet-smelling wax, or fitted with glimmering LED bulbs. They were just … pine cones. The same pine cones I’ve been raking by the thousands from my back yard.

Even the bag they came in was nothing special; just red, plastic mesh, like a bag of onions or potatoes. No fancy label boasting that the pine cones were harvested from virgin forests in the heart of beautiful Maine, no pretty ribbon tying off the bag; nothin’.

Each sack contained four or five cones at three bucks a bag. I stink at math, but near as I can figure, this works out to about 60 cents per cone. That means — based on my estimation of how many cones I’ve raked and tossed this fall alone — I COULD have raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $180,000. This is a neighborhood I would very much like to live in.

It’s too late now, of course. Somebody else came up with the idea first.

But the pine cone thing got me thinking. Maybe this is just the leading edge of a huge, untapped market; people willing to pay big bucks for yard waste and other stuff I don’t want.

I have about four tons of fallen pine needles and oak leaves in my back yard right now. If I cram some of each into a burlap sack and market them as “craft supplies,” will anyone fall for it?

Living as close as I do to the beach, in the summertime my kitchen is usually full of sand, particularly when my grandkids are visiting. Somehow, they manage to carry roughly a metric ton of it back into the house every time they return from a swim.

That sand could be sold to people who own shuffleboard tables or sandpaper companies. Or maybe I could sell it back to the city for use at the beach. At the rate my grandkids track it into my kitchen, they’re going to need a truckload or two at the beach within a year just to halt the erosion there.

Then there are the cobwebs. My apartment seems to generate a lot of these for some reason. Surely I could seal them into plastic baggies and market them as Halloween decor.

And spiders! Because I was too merciful to kill Charlotte, the spider who made herself at home in my bathroom last spring, I now have spiders everywhere! Charlotte was nothing if not prolific.

I could freeze the spiders into ice cubes and sell them as “joke” novelty items, something with which to prank your friends at New Year’s Eve parties. I personally know at least three guys that would pay big bucks for a spider-laden ice cube.

Anyone who doesn’t believe I could market oak leaves, pine needles, beach sand, cobwebs and frozen spiders is obviously too young to remember Pet Rocks (Google it, junior).

In a world gone crazy, anything’s possible.


Mike’s book, “Looking at the Pint Half Full” is available at Robbins Book List in Greenville and in ebook format from Contact Mike at

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