Although the holidays are about so much more than just gifts, many of us truly enjoy the process of selecting and giving presents that are thoughtful, useful, and are a reflection of our values. Today I'm feeling inspired to share some DIY holiday gift ideas which incorporate elements of the natural world . . . because pretty much everyone could use more nature in their lives!
I’m a plant dork, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I often find myself pondering interesting and creative ways to incorporate wild edible and medicinal plants into my daily life, whether it be through harvesting plants for food, or using plants to make herbal medicine and self-care products. I’m also always dreaming up ways to incorporate wild plant-based projects into our programs at Feather and Frond Forest School. Over the years I’ve discovered that most kids just love to harvest plants for cooking and/or medicine-making. And this act of cultivating a relationship with wild plants through mindful harvesting and use of native species adds a whole other level and depth of nature connection to our programs. I just love it!!
As I step outside and soak in the sights of Autumn, I can’t help but be in awe of the vibrant beauty that surrounds me. Countless shades of golden yellow and orange offer bold splashes of color amongst the green canopy. The occasional encounter with bright red foliage, courtesy of cultivated Japanese Maples found in city parks and suburban lawns, offers a stunning feast for my eyes. Autumn, you inspire me!
Down in the understory, the red fruits of Rose and Hawthorn pop out against sparsely leaved branches. These Fall fruit offerings are ripe for picking and provide nourishing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are helpful for boosting immunity this time of year. . .
Patrick and I deeply inspired by our recent trip to Ireland, where we were part of a group exploration of the western part of the country, led by PNW-based ethnobotanist Heidi Bohan. This incredible excursion took us to some beautiful and remote areas, where we harvested the edible and medical plants of our Celtic ancestors, explored ancient dolmens, cairns and ruins, and learned firsthand from masters of traditional Willow basket-making and Crios band weaving. We’re still reflecting, integrating, and catching up on sleep from this trip (we just returned on Saturday!), but in the meantime, I’m inspired to share with you a delicious recipe for Hedgerow Jelly, which we learned how to make from Heidi while we were staying in beautiful Beaufort, Ireland.
We’re so happy to be back in the forest with the Fox Walkers after the long holiday break!
As we find ourselves in the midst of winter, our curriculum theme is shifting towards Trees & Survival. Hence, we will be spending the next few weeks focusing specifically on tree identification and the survival uses of the trees that are native to this area.
It was great to welcome our Whatcom crew back after a very full Winter Solstice break! Our numbers are slowly growing and we have a really sweet and fun crew assembled on Fridays. We are looking forward to a really exciting Winter and Spring with the Fox Walkers! Just a few spaces remain if you or someone you know wanted to sign up their little one to join us!
This past week saw both rekindling of bonds formed in the fall and new friendships starting as well. Major highlights included dissecting the owl pellet we found in December...
It was another epic day at Whatcom Falls Park last Friday! We began our time together by working on our holiday craft— a log suet feeder for the birdies. The Fox Walkers spent the morning drilling holes in their logs with a tool known as a brace. The large holes were then filled with suet, and the smaller holes were transformed into bird perches with the help of some branch cuttings and Douglas Fir pitch “glue”. We also played a high-energy game of Run Rabbits Run, which is always a hit with this crew!
The Fox Walkers made little log bird feeders as a little gift for the bird. (or a Bird Lover in their life) This was a fun little project -- I got some of the logs ready with some holes at home and then the kids helped put in perch holes and fit the the perches in using Doug Fir pitch as glue. Although the power drill is much quicker, I have an affinity for old manual hand tools so I brought in a brace with a few bits.
YAY for SUNSHINE! We enjoyed a gorgeous week full of fun, adventure, and wild discoveries at Fairhaven Park.
The Fox Walkers have been so helpful with preparing materials for our fire in the mornings. They just love scraping the inner bark of Western Red Cedar to make tinder bundles, using the their arm strength to help crank on the bow of our bow-drill kit, and batoning fresh firewood to put aside for future fires. This crew is definitely passionate about fire! And they absolutely love roasting apples too. . .