Tortilla Flat

words by Catherine Ritchie

Tortilla Flat

“Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.” 

― John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat


Early December always requires a bit of foraging. 

I tuck scissors into my pocket whenever I venture out for a walk, gathering boxwood clippings or holly berries from obliging roadside tangles. Yanking juniper and spruce from the lovely chaos of a nearby wood, I tote home armfuls of flora and fauna, ready to put nature to good use inside.

It only takes a bit of patience and few stubborn twists, to weave a proper holiday wreath from your collection of foraged greens. Even simpler, a few strewn pine branches laced with holy berries can bedeck a December mantle in the most fragrant of ways. If you’re near the coast, thread a string with small shells and entwine them through your evergreens.

Setting out with a pair of pruners and a basket may not always be in the cards this busy season. But if you have time to forage a pinecone or two during a brisk winter walk, set them along your kitchen windowsill; it will be hard to resist the subtle joy they bring. 

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poemKaren CoveyComment