Well Christmas Day is just a few days away and it’s going to feel very different for most of us this year. I have taken great solace in the fact that winter solstice means we will be counting the days to longer brighter days. I continue to watch the local landscape as it sheds the last of its leaves and petals and emerges ready to start the whole wondrous process again. Lucky to be surrounded by pockets of green spaces, it is pretty easy to lose yourself in nature if you live in Beeston. Just this morning, I took a stroll in the early morning sunshine to say ‘good morning’ to the local squirrels and birds, rustling and chirping in their natural habitat – it’s such a calm way to start the day and I totally recommend it if you can!
I love the way the sunlight filters through the spiky branches and makes shadowed stripes between the sturdy trunks on the ground. As I was threading my baked orange slices last wet weekend, I decided that the nature reserve up the hill from our house would be the perfect setting for them. I had wanted to try this method of creating natural decorations for a while, but I got a bit carried away after the test batch was a success. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them all! The mostly dried out slices had been further drying out on a windowsill above a radiator, and adding to the orange and clove aroma of the plump pomander on the fireplace.
I used a wool needle and some natural twine, to create a hanging loop that was tied in a bow at the front. My fingers got a bit sticky as I pierced the segments and the scent of orange oil was wonderful while I worked away. With the radio playing the occasional Christmas song my mind drifted to childhood Christmases where there was always a big bowl of satsumas on the table and the smell of festive baking enticing us into the kitchen. We had coffee jars of sweets too. The labels had been soaked off in soapy water and sticky tape decorated with holly or snowmen had been wrapped around the top and base of the clear glass. I am pretty sure the sweets came via a relative that worked at the nearby Thornton’s factory in a large bag that was shared.
Sipping my cuppa, watching the sun rise slowly this morning, I knew that today was the day. I set off straight after breakfast with the hope of finding a young tree with bare branches in a clearing so it could be seen from different angles as you walked through the woodland. Although the sun was still low in the sky, I could tell if I picked my tree well that the sunlight would shine through the opaque orange and intensify the colour. It didn’t take long to find the ideal location to display my orange slices. Deep into the woodland where many paths converge, I found myself walking towards a young tree with elegant branches that curved upwards as though waiting to receive my sweet little gift.
I had made generous loops and they slid easily over the spindly arms of the tree. It took less than five minutes to hang them all, nature had provided the perfect placement opportunity with evenly spaced branches and twigs. After hanging the last golden slice, I stepped back to admire their brilliance against the stripped wood and pale blue sky. I took a few pics on my phone then made a hasty retreat, happy to leave them there for others to enjoy. After all Christmas should be all about giving, right?