I received a great Christmas gift from my sister this past holiday season. It was a bag of walnut shells from walnuts that we gathered from the tree in front of my house last year. Now this might seem a bit odd to folks that did not grow up in the depression or in the years during and after WWII, but those whose families are still connected with the past might realize the value of such a gift for Christmas.
A Christmas TraditionWhen you look at a photo of these walnuts you will note that there is a loop of string coming out of the top, and if you were to hold them you would feel the shells are light and clearly empty. You might even see a bit of glue around the seams where the two sides of the shells meet. This is because they are intended as ornaments for the Christmas tree. This has been a tradition in my family as long as I can remember. When I was a child my mom liked to spray paint the ornaments silver or gold, but as a teenager I developed a preference for natural colors and my mom agreed to let me keep some unpainted. When I moved out on my own my mom sent them with me and they have followed me ever since. I think the only time we added to the collection is when my mom gave my wife and me some additions at the beginning of our marriage.
Sustainability in PracticeThis gift is about more than the tradition. It is also about the time my sister put into carefully cracking some very well sealed walnuts in a way that allowed them to be used. It is also about the time that we spent together collecting the nuts, as well as the idea that such a simple thing can be recycled and enjoyed from year to year. Even the shells that could not be saved for ornaments will be used either for cooking fuel or will go back into the garden as compost or mulch.
Finding Deeper Meaning in Everyday ActivitiesThere are a number of lessons that can be learned from this blog, as well as some that I have not thought of and likely need to learn myself. But that is what happens when something that looks simple turns out to be much deeper. So as you burn off all the calories that you ate over the holiday season and clean up all the stuff from the parties and decorating, look at the levels of what you did for the season. Did you learn just one or two things out of each activity or event? Or did you find it valuable on many levels or for many reasons?
Gardening on a Deeper LevelOnce you have done that, think about your garden plans for this coming spring. Are they on a simple, single level or are they just a little bit deeper, a little more fulfilling, and a little more useful on more than one level? If they are not, I encourage you to find a way to get more out of your garden. I promise you a more complex return on the garden is worth any little bit of extra time and effort to get it. And if you need help, come take a look at this blog. I will be sharing my efforts to make a richer, more fulfilling garden for my family and me.