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
Cover the Metal Wreath Ring by wrapping raffia around the entire frame. This process adds body to the frame making it easier to bind greens to it.
Lay first sprig down with greenery pointing up, and stems pointing down. Wrap wire around the stem and the frame to secure it.
Lay the next variety of greenery in the same direction (green up, stem down) and wrap wire around the stem and frame to secure it.
Continue with each of the varieties and then repeat the pattern around the whole wire frame.
Tuck extra pieces where there are holes or trim/pull out pieces that are too crowded. Use your judgement. Asymmetry can be interesting, too. So, don’t worry if there are some wild sticks or dramatic flourishes!
Enjoy your wreath for the whole season of winter!
When Spring comes, remove the greens for compost, and save your frame for next year or make a Spring wreath full of forsythia and redbud.
This image is from the recent Winter Issue of Woolgathering!
I wrote about what it’s like to experience a rush of sandhill cranes fly overhead.
If you are looking to renew your Woolgathering subscription or sign up for the first time, please be aware that there is a new option of receiving Woolgathering digitally!
Visit the shop here to learn more about all of the Woolgathering options such as the “Total Package” that includes an overnight stay for two at Spring Bird’s Cottage along with a copy of “Great Oak”!
Dr. Qing Li writes about the benefits of a common bacteria found in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae. M. vaccae is not only harmless to us, but it is actually beneficial. We can experience its benefits while forest bathing (provided we touch the forest ground) or while working in our gardens. No wonder it feels so good to dig in the dirt!
Li writes, “. . the soil stimulates the immune system, and a boosted immune system makes us feel happy. Every time you dig in your garden or eat a vegetable plucked from the ground, you will be ingesting M. vaccae and giving yourself this boost.”
I think that this a reason why we are so eager for the Spring thaw. We need to get ourselves in the dirt. Maybe this winter we can stick our hands in our house plants in order to get a little soil buzz.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.