Must, Must, Must

MUST GO NATURAL

Maybe this is the year to go natural with your Christmas decorations. Put away the tinsel and the glitter and let nature be your guide to holiday décor. It’s as simple as a walk in the woods or a drive down a country road. Gather pine – cones – the Scotch pines that line our rural roadsides produce beautifully shaped cones; forage for a few acorns or hickory nuts – the ones the squirrels have left behind; cut some cedar and pine branches for your mantle and don’t forget to clip a few branches of the red dogwood for some variation to the mix. Your home will be filled with the fragrance of the forest.

MUST SKI TRAILS

Winter is easier when you have an outdoor hobby. The dark days of the season go by much faster when you are counting your strides instead of counting the days until spring. One of the most welcoming of winter pastimes is Nordic, or cross-country skiing, which offers a heart-pumping workout while you enjoy nature’s beauty. This fairly inexpensive winter sport can be as challenging or as relaxing as you like. Depending on your skill, or your ambitions, you can find a local trail, forest or field to tackle, as long as there is ample snow coverage. And no more early mornings and sticky wax to deal with; today’s cross-country skis offer waxless options – less ski prep means more time on the trails!

Ganaraska Forest Centreganaraskaforestcentre.ca
Northumberland County Forestnorthumberland.ca
Quinte Conservation Authorityquinteconservation.ca
Lower Trent Conservation Authorityltc.on.ca
Millennium Trailpectrails.ca
Hastings Countyhastingscounty.com

MUST KNIT

Knitting is back and it’s bigger than ever. This isn’t your grandmother’s hobby anymore – anyone can knit, and what better time to learn this trendiest of diversions than over the winter when you can show off your warmest, fashionable handiwork. Knitting offers a creative outlet, a sense of accomplishment, and many will champion its therapeutic, almost meditative benefits. Cast on, and purl your way to any number of knitting and yarn specialty stores to join a knitting group, take lessons or just simply appreciate the beauty, softness, texture and colours found within layers upon layers of skeins of lambswool, merino, alpaca, cashmere or even that tried and true Shetland wool.
Get your knit-fix on at any of these local specialty stores:

Cabin Boy Knits, Stirling cabinboyknits.com
Grey Heron Yarn Shop, Belleville greyheronyarns.com
Knowledge & Needles, Brighton knowledgeandneedles.com
Rosehaven Yarn Shop, Picton rosehaven-yarn-shop.myshopify.com
The Robbins Nest, Brighton the-robbins-nest.business.site
Thy Wool Be Done, Warkworth thy-wool-be-done.business.site
Yarn It, Cobourg yarnitcobourg.ca

MUST FEED THE BIRDS

“In winter, birds love homes with feeders. But what to feed your feathered guests?” Tammy Bryant, owner of Out on a Limb Birding Supplies in Brighton tells us, “I recommend beginning with a basic type of seed: black oil sunflower. This seed is appetizing to all species of birds, making it a great starting point for any yard.” To attract more species, use a mixture of the top six seeds: black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, safflower, white millet, nyjer, and peanuts. Bobbi Wright, owner of The BirdHouse Nature Store, also in Brighton, advocates that winter feeding of birds is a great activity for the whole family. “Make sure your seed is fresh to ensure the birds don’t turn their beaks up at it! Allpurpose mix like The Right Stuff offers a mix of seeds to help attract a variety of birds. Feeding them suet in winter also helps keep them warm. Happy feeding!”

Out on a Limb Birding Supplies,
FB @outonalimbbrighton
The Birdhouse Nature Store, thebirdhouse.ca

MUST NOT SLIP

We all need to get outside for fresh air, fitness and fun. Don’t let those icy, wintry days stop you from getting your 10,000 steps in. Instead, strap a pair of crampons to your boots to make your outdoor treks safer when traversing icy steps, slippery driveways or frozen fields. And remember, these aren’t your old-fashioned onesize- fits-all metal hikers; crampons are becoming more specialized by activity and are so much easier to attach to your boot. Gone are the days when you had to contort yourself on your mudroom floor to ensure a snug fit. Head to any reputable outdoor store for advice and proper fittings and see you outside!

Green Canoe Outfitters – 90 King Street West,
Cobourg, FB @GreenCanoeOutfitters
Canadian Tire Stores – Cobourg, Campbellford,
Trenton, Belleville, Picton

MUST TAKE CARE

Be kind, be caring. Most charities can’t receive in-person donations right now, but you can get online and share the care. Financial pressures have increased for non-profits, volunteer activities have changed to address social distancing, and even our usual generous, giving behaviour has been affected by the pandemic; yet charities need our help now more than ever. This holiday season and throughout the coldest months of the year, check in on your favourite local charities and find ways to help, to give and take care.