OAK BAY -- Once you notice the first cone on the tree, it’s easy to see there’s many more.

But if you look a bit longer, you just might notice, one of them is looking back at you.

“Oh my gosh!” a woman walking with her granddaughter exclaims. “There are eyes!”

We know corn have ears — lettuce, heads — and artichoke, hearts. But a conifer cone with eyes?

“They’re very positive, kind of cute, quite like those,” another woman smiles, while peering at the plastic eyes that have been glued on the cone. “I didn’t do them!”

She says her dog didn’t transform the cone into a creature either.

“She’s crafty,” the woman laughs. “But not in terms of doing crafts.”

The dog is certainly not capable of making more than one.

“That one has a little hat on it! And there’s another one over there!” the first woman points for her granddaughter to see. “There’s a whole family!”

The trio arrived about three weeks ago, another passerby says. You can find them in the tree where three streets connect — Linkleas Avenue, Island Road and Newport Avenue.

“Oh!” another woman named Wynne proclaims, before laughing and stepping in for a closer look at the curious cones.

Wynne says she’s never noticed them before. The retired botanist specialized in bryophytes, like moss. After decades of study, she’s certain a moss never returned her gaze.

“I’ve never seen eyes on the sporophyte of a moss,” she says, before laughing. “It would be very small eyes.”

I began searching for moss in the area to help illustrate what Wynne was talking about and started to understand why she’d focus her work on it.

By closely observing what most of us miss, Wynne has been able to experience a deeper appreciation for the world around us.

“There’s so much beauty in miniature,” she smiles. “We’re not aware of [it] until we take the time.”

Perhaps during this pandemic time, instead of bemoaning the big things we can’t do, these cones with eyes are inviting us to see all the small things we can.