Those things are eucalyptus seed pods. Three of them have already sent their seeds out into the world, if you want to be poetic about it. If you don't, then three of them have sent more of this invasive and intensely flammable species out into the parched California landscape. The one in the foreground? That one is still dormant.
My wife brought these to me from a trip to Stern Grove in San Francisco, where, she said, there were millions of them scattered all over the ground. I've had these four for years. I am endlessly fascinated by their shapes, their details and color and by their subtle variations. They sit in front of me on my desk, and when I get tired of looking at them in one arrangement I move them around. Sometimes I roll them like dice and let chance be the designer. Often I step in and art direct chance's valiant attempts in order to make it better, because let's face it, chance is not very disciplined.
And then I'm fascinated all over again.
The point of this is to say that in light of my recent work, I became aware that these things may have had a profound influence on me that only recently became apparent. Moving things around, over and over until you get them "right". And then doing it again. The same thing, only different.