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Winter Solstice -- Story, Nature Activity, and Puppets

Many years ago, a friend told this story at a storytelling group I belonged to. It's a story that stuck with me through the years.

The Little Tree That Longed for Other Leaves

Adapted from Friedrieh Ruckert

There was a little tree that stood in the woods through both good and stormy weather. It was covered from top to bottom with needles instead of leaves. The needles were sharp and prickly.

"All the trees around me have beautiful green leaves, and I have only sharp needles. No one comes near me. If I could have a wish I would ask for leaves of pure gold."

That night the little tree fell asleep, and in the morning it found itself covered with glistening, golden leaves.

"Ah, ah!" said the little tree, "How grand I am! No other tree in the woods is dressed in gold."

But at evening time there came a peddler with a great sack and a long beard. He saw the glitter of the golden leaves. He picked them all and hurried away leaving the little tree cold and bare.

"All my golden leaves are gone! " cried the little tree. "And look at the trees around me, their leaves are turning golden high above a man's reach. I am ashamed to stand among the other trees that have such beautiful foliage. If I only had another wish I would ask for leaves of glass."

The little tree fell asleep, and when it woke, it found itself covered with bright and shining leaves of glass.

"Now," said the little tree, "I am happy. No tree in the woods glistens like me."

But there came a fierce storm - wind driving through the woods. It struck the glass, and in a moment all the shining leaves lay shattered on the ground mixed with the leaves that had fallen from the other trees. Birds flew and headed to warmer climates.

"My leaves, my glass leaves!" moaned the little tree, The little tree didn't notice the other trees. Oh! if I had another wish I would ask for green leaves."

The little tree slept again, and in the morning it was covered with fresh, green foliage. And it laughed merrily, and said, "Now, I need not be ashamed any more. I am like the other trees in the woods."

But along came a mother goat, looking for grass and herbs to fill her belly. She saw the crisp, new leaves; and she nibbled, and nibbled, and nibbled them all away, and she ate up until the little tree stood bare.

"Alas!" cried the little tree in anguish, "I want no more leaves, neither gold ones nor glass ones, nor green and red and yellow ones! If I could be the me I used to be, I would never complain again."

The little tree fell asleep, and when it saw itself in the morning sunshine, it laughed and laughed and laughed. And all the other trees stood bare revealing the abandoned nests, and protective holes, proud to wait for spring. The little tree stood proud too. It spread it's branches for the birds to gather for warmth and food. They didn't mind the little prickly needles in the least.

Happy Winter Solstice

Our neighborhood decided to make a special event for the Winter Solstice. We are encouraging everyone to add a few outdoor lights to celebrate the longest night with a walk around the neighborhood. A few families are offering safe activities along the route. I put together a Take and Make (Yes, in that order) Pinecone birdfeeders.

Here are the details in case you want to do it too.

How to Make your Own Suet

Mix together:

1 pkg. Lard (I had to stop at a few stores to find it. It was in the baking aisle. (Jewel))

1.5 cups of peanut butter

1.5 – 2 Cups Cornmeal

½ - 1 Cup Sunflower seeds.

You can change things up and skip the peanut butter. Add oats, different birdseed, or even buy some mealworms.

Find some pinecones.

Pinecone with red yarn wrapped around scales.

Make the Feeder:

Step 1: Wrap string, ribbon or yarn between the first and second row of scales (Yep, I looked it up to find out what they are called).

Step 2: Pull the loose ends up and tie a knot at the end of the yarn. (You will use this to hang your feeder. It also makes the whole spreading of the suet less messy.)

Step 3: Use your knife to spread the suet on the pinecone. Be sure to push the suet between the scales.

Step 4: Hang in a tree for birds and squirrels to enjoy.

Pinecone covered with suet
Ready to Hang.

If you can’t find pinecones, you can make suet balls (freeze them so they are easier to handle), fill some broken black walnut shells, or drill holes in a piece of wood and fill the holes with suet.

If you want to get really fancy, string some popcorn and cranberries for your tree too.

A friend made these cute little cranberry rings. Then she captured this moment.

Squirrel eating cranberries
Photo by Tracy

I put the little kits together in a paper bag. So I thought a paper bag puppet craft would be a fun addition to the experience.

There is a cute Christmas Tree from Scholastic. If you have an account, you can log in and download the tree.

This little gnome could be converted into an adorable puppet.

I had a grand idea to provide some pine cone identification. It is proving more challenging than I expected. So maybe there will be another pine cone post in the future.

Wishing you peace this season as the days begin to grow longer.

1 comment

1 Comment

This makes me want to live in an climate where winter is really winter! Instead, we have sun and pleasant walking temps. And flocks of birds (cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, and others) perch in our pyracantha tree, gorging on berries. We'll be heading out to look at holiday lights on the solstice! Happy Holidays!

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