We're at the dark turn of the year, awaiting the Winter Solstice (the night between December 21st and 22nd) and after that the return of the light, when the sun will be 'up' a little bit longer each day. When I walk by the now naked trees and look closely at the branches I'm reminded that they may be devoid of leaves but certainly not the buds we can find along and usually at the ends of most branches. Inside these buds are the flowers and leaves that will 'be' next spring. They too are waiting all winter for the warmer, light-filled days of spring. When I'm with children outdoors we sometimes refer to them as packets of promise.
Now some buds, depending on the kind of tree they are on, will contain just the leaves, some only the flowers, others will have both. Different buds will have different shapes, colors and be of different sizes. They serve as good guides in identifying winter trees.
Now would be a good time to venture out-of-doors and find some 'buddies'. Go to a few different kinds of trees and choose some buds that you can check on, be aware of or look in on, whenever you go outdoors. Be patient, not much will be happening for a while but when it does happen, it will feel like magic, a promise fulfilled.
How will you know which are your buds? I like to tag or mark them with a colored piece of yarn or string tied around the branch and on or right next to my buds. You might think of other ways to mark your buds so that you can easily find them.
-Ed Bieber is the Owner/Director of The Nature Place Day Camp. He has a B.A. degree from Rutgers University in Botany, M.S. from Michigan State University in Outdoor Education and New York State Permanent Teaching Certification, N-6. Ed has worked professionally, since 1970, with over 250,000 children (and still counting!), adults and families in the outdoors.