Week of December 10, 2023 – December 16, 2023

Catherine McLaughlin, Environmental Educator at Baltimore Woods

by Catherine McLaughlin, Environmental Educator

I feel like I am never truly prepared for the cold. I have lived in CNY my entire life and I always groan seeing the cold and wet weather forecasts. When I was a kid, I bundled up like a marshmallow to go sledding and make snow angels – however winter was also a time for crafting and honing skills indoors.

Growing up I made an assortment of glitter covered ornaments for the holidays, and yes, they are still featured on the tree at my parents. I still find myself working with my hands or reading during the winter months now. I might be making sourdough bread one day or spinning wool to crochet.

However there has been a rise in natural decorations this year on my social media feeds, such as pinecone animals, natural garlands, or even wood burned tree cookies. I have dived into making these ornaments to create a healthier relationship between myself and the winter months as I need to spend more time outside to get everything rather than running to the store.

To make these creations I need to take a walk outside to be inspired by and collect materials. I will layer my winter clothes with a bag in hand to collect sticks and pinecones, things that have already fallen to the ground for the season around my backyard. While I am out there, I take a few moments to listen to what nature is offering me this season. A peaceful frosty day perhaps, where I can begin to learn bird calls or even a rainy day where I only see one lone squirrel scurrying up a tree. It’s often a quiet time of year to be outside, even here at Baltimore Woods, but it can be one of the most beautiful if you are willing to go out in it.

With winter beginning to show signs of its return we reach a time of rest and retreat, in which we may want to try and hide inside from the chilly days. However I encourage you to take a short walk outside -even if it is just to collect materials for a craft – and observe who might be out in your community enjoying the weather. You may just see a familiar friend or meet a new neighbor.