Solbit Makes Up a Riddle for You…It’s a Corker!

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Hey, here’s a riddle for you:  what do wine bottle stoppers, purses, and women’s bracelets have in common (not to mention key fobs, baseball hats, belts, and watch bands)?


Give up?  I’ll give you a hint:  common material.  Got it now? No?  Here’s another hint: plant material. Yeah, all of these are made of tree bark!  Cork, to be precise.

Did you know that cork comes from the bark of a tree, a Cork Oak tree?  I didn’t. Also, Portugal, the country where we are now, produces 34% of the world’s cork! How do I know all this?

By accident.  When we walked through that town I told you about, Guimarães, Nona saw a big piece of tree bark at a little shop.  Nona took me out of her pocket and said, “Solbit, I’ve got to take a picture of you on this tree bark.”  What? I’m just her prop for travel photos?  Well, here I am.


I shouldn’t complain about Nona taking my photo all the time; I look pretty good there, don’t I? Oh, but that’s not the point of this photo.  What the picture shows you is the tree bark. Skilled workers called “extractors,” take out material that people call “cork” from the bark.  I guess you can make round things or flat things from tree bark, if it is cork.

Then, later, when we were walking around that archeological site I told you about, Citânia de Briteiros. We saw a lot of different trees, including those cork trees! So, Papa got out his iPhone and had me pose with these.

Daytrip to Guimarares

These “fruits” or “nuts” were on branches of that cork tree.  We don’t know if those can be used for anything.  Any bright ideas? I bet you could find some cork in your house right now.

One more thing, when we got home, Nona researched cork. She found out weird and interesting things.  For example, she said that, way back in the 1600s, French wine makers used oiled rags, not cork, as wine bottle stoppers. Papa said, “Yuck!”  Now, of course, they use these.


Did you know that pieces of cork can be put into concrete walls for insulation? Also, Nona found that the cork from those trees has been used in heat shields of space craft.  Amazing!  Papa said, “No way!”  Then he said, “Let me see that.” Next thing we know, he’s spending a lot of time reading about cork.

I guess that sometimes we discover the most interesting things by accident, huh?  We were just on a walk and looked at something leaning against a shop.  Now we know all these new things about cork. Some accidents are good, right?

I’m your friend.



September 2014

*You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.

*You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”