So that's how they do it!
OK, so I live such a secluded life that I never knew how pine cones get to be pine cones. But here they are--female pinaceae cones right in front of my camera lens--lifting overlapping scales (I googled Wikipedia) from a central axis. The scales open temporarily to receive pollen, then close during fertilization and maturation. At maturity, they re-open again to allow the seed to escape.
Just in time for Christmas wreaths and decorations, fire starters, bird feeders, and toys.