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Issue No 106
Winter 2006
page 48

Comforting
CONIFERS

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You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night. —Denise Levertov

Pamela Thompson instructs workshops and retreats at Giving Ground, her 80-acre Finnish homestead 50 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota. Visit her website at www.giving ground.com.

 
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juniper, and 2 drops of lemon in a teaspoon of carrier oil, such as sweet almond, for a refreshing winter bath oil. Mix well and add to a tub of very warm bath water just before bed. (You can find all of these ingredients on their website at www.birchhillhappenings.com.)

Spruce Body Powder
To create this refreshing body powder, also from Birch Hill Happenings, add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, 10 drops of spruce essential oil, and 5 drops of clove essential oil to every 2 Tbls of cornstarch. You may want to experiment with the recipe, making a slightly larger batch, dividing it into small containers for winter gifts.

Conifer Crafts
Now that we stay inside more, I like to bring fresh cedar boughs in to add to indoor wreaths. We also make small dream pillows stuffed with balsam fir (Abies balsamea) for ourselves, or for holiday gifts. During our first years here on the homestead, we used to reread a book every winter called We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickinson Rich (J.B. Lippincott Company, 1942). We brought it out here to Minnesota from my parents’ Hudson River house. Describing the small pillows made for the Maine tourist trade during the 1940s, Rich explains that printed across each pillow was “the excruciating sentiment, ‘For You I Pine and Balsam!’” Of course, we can make, as Rich did, small, elegant pillows without the corny jokes! With so many fabrics available, you can tailor your pillow to your holiday of choice: Kwanzaa colors of red, green, and black, maybe in an African print; the candles of Hanukkah; or a design based on the Winter Solstice or Christmas.

A dream pillow also provides medicine. Fir scent grounds us and helps relieve anxiety and stress. The smell also stimulates the respiratory and circulatory systems, often under siege during the winter months.

Cut out two squares of fabric of desired size and place one on top of the other. Sew up three sides inside out to make a seam; then flip the fabric back and stuff with a combination of your fir and fiberfill. Sew up the fourth side, rolling in the hem.

As the cold weather closes in, take comfort in the scents and medicinal powers of the ancient conifers. These illustrious trees provide us with everything we need to get through and thoroughly enjoy the crisp, snowy days of winter.

 
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