Guadalupe River Park Conservancy in San Jose, California, provided all the materials for a class on how to make wreaths. Most of the things they used can be found in any garden.
My friend Leslie, whom I've known since the seventh grade, asked me to go with her to a wreath making class at the Guadalupe Park Conservancy here in Northern California. I said yes mostly because her schedule is so busy these days it was one way for us to spend a couple of hours together.
I hoped there wouldn't be a glue gun at this thing. I've always thought the words "glue" and "gun" suggest something to be avoided at all costs since, when placed together, those nouns sound both violent and sticky.
The event turned out to be a delight. The master gardener, Milli Wright, had gone to local vineyards to cut the grape vines for us to weave into the wreath base. I always wondered how they did that! Now all I have to do is make friends with a vintner and I'll have wreath material for life.
We could chose what we wanted from the piles of foliage the Guadalupe gardeners had scrounged. English holly and variegated holly; California bay leaves, and culinary bay; rosemary herb; eucalyptus blooms; pyracantha berries; rose hips and things from the garden whose names I can't remember.
The two hours whooshed by and though I considered myself seriously arts-and-crafts-challenged, I actually turned out a wreath that at least looks something like a wreath. And not one person in the room pulled a glue gun on me.
It may look a little like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, but it is mine own.
One of the best features of the event was that, at least for those two hours, I was able to forget that on this same day last year, I lost my mom.
All during the past year, I walked in the garden that had made her so happy. In the garden I often found the feathers that birds leave behind as evidence that they, too, live and work in the world of shrubs and flowers Mom cultivated with such care.
When I got home, I dug into my feather collection and added those to the wreath.
Then, I placed the wreath over the hearth where, for so many Christmases past, my father built a fire after we returned from church on Christmas Eve.
Now, memories of those days float softly around me, like the feathers I gathered in the garden.
The hearth at Ft. Chapman, December 2010.