We step softly into the arboreal portions of the Appalachian hardwood forest. The forest floor is covered with a scant dusting of snow. It’s just enough to set the mood for selecting the perfect Christmas tree. The cold air reveals our breath in long curls that dissipate quickly. The smell of the spruce fills the air is we inspect the boughs for just the right shape and fullness. I produce a small axe from my pack and begin to work as you retrieve the thermos of hot chocolate and peppermint and begin to pour. Soon I have a flat spot carved into the fallen log for our traditional Christmas picnic in the woods. Next the real work begins as we hang garlands of popcorn and ornaments made from suet and seeds. We back away from the “Christmas Tree” and have a seat on the log as the small birds and animals gather for a feast. This Christmas tree will truly be evergreen.
The above story was inspired by an article in an old 4-H book that encouraged young people to create a “Living Chistmas Tee” to help the songbirds in winter as a way of caring for nature. Variations called for using small homemade bird feeders made from paper cups and filled with birdseed. If this is something that you want to try please be responsible and collect the empty cups when the feed is gone.
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