Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the season for gifts from nature

by June

One of the greatest pleasures of the season for us is bringing some of the outdoors into our home. The girls and I took a last ramble before the snow flew, and we brought in red berries and armloads of greenery.

We've been making wreaths for friends (and the chickens' coop, oh yes!).

We've dressed the mantel with a garland of hemlock and balsam and pine and also a teapot brimming with berries.

We have some treasures that we keep from year to year...like these rocks that Grandpa Hickory found on a hike to the waterfall. Do you see what he saw in them?


(They say HO.)

Of all the things we welcome inside for the holidays, the grandest is the tree. What reverence we feel to cook and play and make gifts in the company of something of such beauty and grace and importance. We do suffer qualms about how it has been sacrificed for our pleasure, but we do our utmost to return it to its earthly purpose. After Christmas, we use its branches to shelter the more tender plants in the garden, and in the spring, we mulch it.

The profound presence of the tree vibrates all the more when it comes with a reminder of its place in nature. Often, we find birds' nests in the branches, and one year, we found two. We keep the nests in our ornament boxes with special glass treasures nestled in them through the year.

Of all the gifts we've found in the branches of the tree, none has meant so much as the one we found two years ago. Do you see it?

There. A monarch butterfly chrysalis.

The summer before had been a summer of bountiful monarchs in our meadow. We had watched their metamorphosis in the wildness of our monarch stands and in jars we kept stocked with milkweed. One caterpillar even crawled out of a jar and made its chrysalis on the underside of a shelf. (We waited anxiously for him to burst forth, so we could offer him a twig "taxi" and a ride to the great outdoors.)

chrysalis on milkweed in our meadow

chrysalis in a jar that same summer

The abandoned chrysalis glowed with the lights of our Christmas tree and also with our memories of butterflies and summer days. Years later, it's still one of our favorite gifts from nature.

a monarch dries its wings on our porch

31 comments:

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

You have a way with words June, you really do. Your words about the tree sent shivers up my spine. I'll be thinking about them when I look at my own tree. Thank you for that.

Off to Evan's holiday concert! Enjoy your tree all!

Country Girl said...

Beautiful! All of the pics. Love how you captured the butterflies arrival in photos. I just made a center piece yesterday with pine, fir, and cedar bows. Tomorrow I am going out to get more bows to make a garland around the fireplace and a wreath. In years past I've made wreaths for others but I've kinda lost my umph if that's a word. Figures now that I have access to endless greens. Wanted to make tons when I had to beg others to cut their boughs. Here is a craft link I thought you may like for your girls. http://www.craftynest.com/2009/12/giant-craft-stick-snowflakes/ Are you on facebook?

Earth Mama said...

I love all of the outside you have brought in. Especially that teapot brimming with berries! Your chickens will be so lucky to have a little christmas wreath on their coop!

:)Lisa

Country Girl said...

Regarding what you posted over at my blog.... I have his new book. Bought it at Johnny's this past summer. I take it to bed with me every night. Thanks for the advice & encouragement!!

Beegirl said...

So beautiful June. I love the photo of the butterfly while it is still in it's chrysalis. Happy Holidays to you!

Sharon said...

that is WONDERFUL! I love your decorations and the beauty of nature in your decorations! HO HO HO, I'm going to be on the look out for some rocks!

Merry Christmas!

Camie | Red Gate Gardens said...

We found a nest in our tree one year as well. Somehow it made the tree that much more special, knowing that a family of birds enjoyed that tree too...

Merry, merry Christmas!

Catherine said...

Your decorations are so beautiful! I just love that teapot with berries! Lovely!

Amy Blogs @ River Rock Cottage said...

Can I have Christmas at YOUR house? I love how you use all the natural elements in your home and how all the treasures you find are building memories! I am totally inspired to try some of this next year!

Bloom fine art fotografi said...

You just have a way of making everything more beautiful and meaningful June. When I visit your place I just feel better. Uplifted,happy...and hungry.Very nice natural decor...there is just something about nature...why mess with perfection? I bet your house smells so good with the freshcut pine and berries.

Anonymous said...

June,
You know I love this. How neat.
Love,
Sarah

Tricia Orchard said...

How lovely. Thanks for sharing your special treasures. I liked hearing what you do with your tree when you are done. We have a fake one because I feel bad cutting one down. One day, we will take our kids out to get a real one so they can experience the whole gamet - cutting it down, caring for it indoors and then returning it to nature as you do.

Thanks again,
Tricia

RunninL8 said...

WOW! Thanks for sharing your beautiful treasures!

C said...

I can almost smell the pine - beautiful! And, isn't nature the best decorator EVEH!!

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

What a lovely post! How wonderful to have the butterfly chrysalis on your tree!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your girls are being raised with such respect for nature ... This is a wonderful thing...

Linda said...

This is a lovely meditation on The Tree, June. And so glad to hear that the chickens aren't forgotten. Your decorating reminds me of a passage in that classic British children's book 'The Country Child'. Do you know it? Your girls might love it. It's one of my Christmas reads every year. The girl in the story tries to make sure every humble object has its own decoration: "Susan kept an eye on the lonely forgotten humble things, the jelly moulds and colanders and nutmeg graters, and made them happy with glossy leaves. Everything seemed to speak, to ask for its morsel of greenery, and she tried to leave out nothing."

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