This is an illustration from the Winter Issue of Woolgathering. I wrote about the harmful effects of the invasive honeysuckle to cardinals.
This year, we are trying to make a more concerted effort to reduce the honeysuckle population in our woods in order to save the trees and the birds. We are also looking to plant some trees in the voids of fallen oaks and cleared weed trees. It is an overwhelming task to eliminate the honeysuckle and buckthorn, but we feel like we have to try our best. We have heard from a friend who advises using a small amount of poison to prevent regeneration. We have also thought about goats who will surely reduce the unwanted plants but will likely eat the wanted ones. Any suggestions on the best approach to invasive species like honeysuckle and buckthorn?
Last year, I started working on an activity book intended to offer lots of fun, creative projects for families to make and do throughout the year. Anyhow, as the year progressed, my plans changed.
One of the projects I had hoped to be included in this book, was this one about telling stories. Storytelling is not only entertaining, it is powerful because in telling our own stories we begin to process our world as we know it and then, begin to imagine what could be.
Children are born storytellers and usually don’t need much to launch into a 3 act play. My daughter Penelope would make stories with anything - salt and pepper shakers, erasers, or paperclips. Now she draws her characters and writes her epic stories, which flow from her like water.
If you are beginning to feel a touch of cabin fever, which is quite contagious this time of year, think about inventing some stories. What is absurd? What makes you cry? What makes you laugh? Share your story of what is and share your story of what you’d like to be.
Below are some methods for creating characters and environments using oven baked clay and cardboard. Of course, a simple sock puppet or tiny figurine would work just as well.
Matchbox Bed Buddy
Today is the first full moon of the year and of the decade. It’s the Wolf Moon! Ahhoooooooo!
According to Jamie Sams’ Medicine Cards, Wolf is the “Teacher Archetype.”
Sams writes, “Wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the cland to teach and share medicine. Wolf takes one mate for life and is loyal like Dog. If you were to keep company with Wolves, you would find an enormous sense of family within the pack, as well as a strong individualistic urge. These qualities make Wolf very much like the human race. As humans we also have an ability to be a part of society and yet still embody our individual dreams and ideas.”
What new ideas do you bring to your pack or your community this month?
These past couple of years I have enjoyed picking a “Word” for that year. This word can be an invitation of how you would like your year to go, and in my experience, my yearly word has made a difference in shaping my choices and experiences. It’s a touchstone to keep in your metaphorical pocket to pull you back to what you feel is important as the weeks and months fly by - which they will.
This year, I decided to make a literal stone to keep on my desk as a reminder of my 2020 word, which actually is two words this year.
Happy New Year!
Do you choose a “word” or phrase for the year?
Something that sparks my interest, is how we as people implement cultural traditions to honor the seasons. What do we choose to do each season - even when we are busy or don’t feel inspired to do so? What traditions remain and why?
Those are big questions to continue to explore in upcoming issues of Woolgathering, but in this latest Winter Issue of Woolgathering, JoAnne Pavin explored the traditions around the holiday meal. JoAnne Pavin, founder of “The Meal” Movement and creator of “The Meal” Magazine, wrote about her family traditions surrounding the dinner table. So much important ceremony happens when we gather around a holiday meal - from recreating family recipes, retelling stories, and creating new memories - which are often based on funny mishaps.
Learn more about JoAnne and “The Meal” here: https://www.themeal.net/
And learn more about “Woolgathering” here.
PS if you are still looking for a holiday gift for your nature lover, check out Spring Bird’s shop.
In Forest Bathing, by Dr. Qing Li, he discusses two ways that we pay attention. The first is voluntary, which we use when we are doing things requiring concentration like writing and email or driving a car.
He explains the other way we pay attention, “The second ‘involuntary’, sometimes called ‘soft fascination’, which I think is a lovely expression. Involuntary attention requires no mental effort, it just comes naturally. This is the kind of attention we use when wea rein nature. In nature, our minds are captured effortlessly by clouds and sunsets, but the movement of leaves in the breeze, by waterfalls and streams, by the sound of the birds or the whisper of the wind. These soothing sights and sounds give our mental resources a break. They allow our minds to wander and to reflect, and so restore our capacity to think more clearly.
As our days grow shorter, we are made aware of how valuable light is in our lives. It is precious, and whether you take time to bask in the sun pouring through the window, surround yourself with twinkly lights, or gaze at the moonlight reflecting off the snow, make some time to appreciate light during your Winter days and nights.
Last winter, Penelope and I made some beeswax candles from a kit made by Country Lane Supplies. The kit includes sheets of beeswax and wick cording .
But, you will also need:
- a cutting board
- ruler or straight edge
- hair dryer (optional)
To make a a rolled taper candle, you need to trim a wedge off of the rectangular sheet - along the edge that will be the top of your candle.
The wedge should measure 1/2" at the widest side. See photo above.
Cut a wick to be about an inch or inch and a half longer than your taper candle.
Place the wick about a quarter inch in from the edge of the wax.
Roll carefully the edge of the wax over the wick.
You can warm the wax with a hair dryer or with your hands.
Tuck the wax under the wick.
Make sure you have an even and tight roll.
Continue to roll the candle.
Continue to roll until you arrive at the diameter that is required for your candlestick.
You can measure as you go.
When your candle is thick enough, cut off the excess wax and smooth the seam into the body of the candle.
Trim your wicks and enjoy your winter light!
Penelope also made a snail candle using a cookie cutter. She used the cookie cutter to cut multiple sheets of wax. She sandwiched the wick in the middle.
“Several studies have shown that, when we connect with nature, we are reminded that we are part of something larger than ourselves. Faced with the awesome vastness of the universe, we can feel flooded with gratitude. We become less selfish and start to think about others. And you don’t have to be alone on a mountainside to experience the wondrous splendour of the natural world. Researchers have shown that we become more helpful and caring after watching DVDs of Planet Earth and looking at pictures of breathtakingly tall trees.”
- Dr. Qing Li, Forest Bathing
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.