In a landscape that at first glance looks barren and bleak, maybe take a second look? There's more color and bounty than you might expect. Pull on the wool jacket, grab the clippers and head for the quiet woods. You'll find a blessed world hidden away from the holiday crowded, a respite from the noise. In a season that seems chattery and overstocked with the mass-produced, a foraged alternative feels grounded and resourceful, connected and good.
Keeping an eye out for color and form, I went along slowly and clipped what I saw. Pine brooms, sumac, rose hips, fir tips with cones, red willow, juniper, dried leaf branches, and the brightest green carpet of moss - elements of a winter season, the components of a larger design. There was a sense of richness in the gathering, an opulence in the humble assortment. Somehow, what was dormant was suddenly very much alive.
Loves, this is what we have, available to us for nothing more than the effort it takes to gather it.
If you don't happen to live within minutes of a forest, don't despair. Urban settings offer their own version of foraging. I once asked an arborist for the branches he was trimming from a birch tree on a house-lined city street. He was quite surprised, then quite willing to have me cart them away. On another occasion, in another city, I asked the man at a Christmas tree lot if I could have the scrap branches in the discard pile, still attached after trimming tree trunks that were being purchased and hauled away by holiday revelers. And, of course, there's always the option of knocking on a stranger's door, and asking if you could snip some branches from their bushes. (I haven't been turned away yet.) If nothing else, it may be good to note that florists stock boxes upon boxes of fresh greenery this time of year, and most will sell it by the stem if you ask.
I have a general idea of what this foraged bounty will become, but, as always with a creative endeavor, I'll have to wait until it's finished to see.