Thursday, December 13, 2007

Advent Wreath made by an urban forager

Here's my Advent wreath for this year. I made it using a new technique. For years I've been gathering materials for my wreath during walks around my neighborhood, but, I must confess that I often carried a scissors with me, to help me harvest the evergreen boughs I craved.
For the past two years, I've used a new method which I call urban foraging. I go to the nearby 100-year-old park and look for downed branches under the trees. Often a big December windstorm helps me out by shaking branches loose from the trees. But this year the weather had been fairly calm before my excursion. I still found more than enough material to make my wreath. I found yew branches (with a few berries still on them) and other branches with tiny pine cones. I got offerings from Sequoias, cedars, pines and cypresses (but no holly--holly branches just don't break off like other evergreens).
One problem with this method is that the materials are pretty dry and the Advent wreath doesn't last as long as it would if I harvested living plant materials. But it's worth it for the lack of guilt, both in raiding the park (illegal) and cutting branches off plants (I always ask for permission, and usually bring a gift, but am never really convinced that they say yes).
I use the colors of the four directions for my candles: yellow for east, red for south, blue for west, and green for north, and put the greens I associate with each direction close to those candles. So I loved the blue-tinged evergreens I found to go around my blue candle and the yew branches went by the north candle (yew is often planted on the north side of churches because of its association with death and rebirth) and the cypress branches which had new yellow buds on the tips went near the eastern candle.
You can still see the white of the foam base showing through in places so I still need to pick up a few more branches. I look forward to seeing what evergreens appear along my path.

No comments: