So, what are Turkey Taco Potatoes?
Thoughtful Friday ~

~*~The January Nature Shelf~*~

Now that the holidays are over and the learning room is, for the most part, back on track, I was able to spend some time refreshing the nature corner:


There's not a lot going on in nature right now ~ it's as if the world has stilled itself, like it's holding its own frosty breath. We're not outside nearly as much as usual so there aren't a lot of "treasures" to display; January is a bare month, and so its corner reflects that.

But, as you can see in the picture below, we've added a new facet to our nature display:


Note the picture frames on the wall! 

Do you know how long I've wanted to get these up here? I think I told you about these maybe a year or so ago, but we haven't had a chance to get them up till just now. I bought plain unfinished wooden frames at the craft store and we printed out current nature photos to hang above the shelves. Each month we'll change them up. These will always be pictures we took ourselves, relfecting our own "habitat" and the changes that take place through the seasons ...


So as you can see here (barely I know - the light is so bright) we have pictures of a snowy treetop, a titmouse, a chickadee and a red squirrel. Ideally these pictures will also feature our nature study focus of the moment (winter birds and wolves right now). Obviously, it's easier for me to get bird pictures than wolf pictures in these parts - thank goodness!

In the far left corner I always prop open a book featuring a seasonal inspiration:


Often I choose a book of nature poems, but this month I really wanted to show the January spread in Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep. The words and illustrations evoke a simpler time of soft, frosty nights and old-fashioned delights. Just the right mood for this month.

"Oh, there were lots of joyful times. On the last day of the old year the children built a bonfire. We all danced around it and shouted Happy New Year. Then we had a party supper with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and apple pie and ice cream and cheese."

Now from left to right, let's take a look at the top shelf ...


First, we have a few birch logs from our woods. (Taken from felled trees we found along the bike path.) I once read about a Celtic Calendar of Trees, one for each month, kind of like Native American moons. Birch, I believe, is assigned to early January. I like their wintry beauty and symbolism - birches are the first trees to grow back after a forest has been razed. Also, the Gaelic word for birch means beginning. Rather fitting, don't you think, for the first month of the year? But we mustn't forget our conifers! Standing nearby is a giant pinecone from out west (purchased last winter at Whole Foods) as well as a collection of ceramic and stone birds, and a geode with glittering crystals inside ...


Centered in the shelf is a new book I bought to share with Earlybird as we explore trees this winter: The Happiness Tree: Celebrating the Gifts of Trees we Treasure. (I'm going to do a review of it in the near future - but suffice it to say, I cannot recommend it heartily enough.) Also shown, The Big Snow, Animals in Winter and Tracks in the Snow.

 In the lower left corner is a photocopy I made of a page in the Winter Flower Fairies book ~ the Song of The Pine Tree Fairy; it's perched right next to a woodland tealight (battery-op!):


A tall, tall tree is the Pine tree,
With its trunk of bright red brown ~
The red of the merry squirrels
Who go scampering up and down.
There are cones on the tall, tall Pine tree,
With its needles sharp and green;
Small seeds in the cones are hidden,
And they ripen there unseen.
The elves play games with the squirrels
At the top of the tall, tall tree,
Throwing cones for the squirrels to nibble ~
I wish I were there to see!


Next we have a pretty ivy wreath I bought at Trader Joe's last week, with a tiny chickadee perched on top. (You can buy silk-feathered birds at craft stores for a few dollars a piece. The bird in the nest there is also from the craft store collection.) By the way, here are directions for making your own ivy topiary at home - a lovely Valentine's gift!

And finally, a glimpse of yet another book display, this one reflecting our current nature studies ...


Lots of wolf-related books as you can see. Our field trip to the wolf sanctuary has been postponed, actually. It was supposed to take place today, but the weather here is so very bitter (18 for a high) we've put it off until next week when hopefully we might enjoy slightly warmer temperatures. (Maybe even a January thaw? Wouldn't that be nice?)

Well, I'm going to leave it there for now because I've talked your ears off for too long! I have to get going anyway ... the day is unfolding and I've got many things to do. First off, I have to run to the registry to renew my license (groan) - keep your fingers crossed for me the lines aren't too long!

Thanks for stopping by - hope you're all keeping warm and well. See you all again sometime soon. :)