Giving Green for the Holidays

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Greene Hats

Shameless Self-Promotion

‘Tis almost the season for giving, that recurring time of year when caution, common sense and reason are often thrown to the winds in search of the perfect holiday gift for the not-quite-so-perfect person in your life. Of these, there are many friends, family, significant others, even colleagues.

For most of us, this means it is also a season for stressing, so that the real reason for the season gets short shrift.

And while we’re not Nieman Marcus, we don’t need to recommend that this holiday season might just be the time to think of giving greener, cleaner, local gifts. Well, not all green. But we do think we can hold our own for decadence, if that’s what you’re looking for. Most of us just wish it could somehow be easier.

GREENE is here to help.

Okay, let’s just get it out of the way: the shameless self-promotion. You knew we couldn’t resist.

We think GREENE is a great holiday gift for anyone who gardens or embraces living a greener, gardening lifestyle. GREENE fits right in a stocking hung by the chimney with care, and goes anywhere in the world for the someone who wishes they could be home in the Ozarks. And for those of us lucky enough to live here, it will guide you in new directions.

That said, the list of gifts is endless and creative. Artisans abound. Photographers who have captured the essence of nature in the Ozarks tromp around hill and dale, and present their creations in many formats. Ashleigh Yoder captures nature and prints on metal, frame free. (See web sites and contact information in the box on page 22 of the November 2011 Issue.)

Rachel Wilson has carved a name for herself as a sculptor, mostly of horses, which she creates from the endless supply of Osage Orange (hedge) wood that fell on her fifth generation family’s farm near Avila.

Richard King's Barbed Wire Christmas Tree

Richard King's Barbed Wire Christmas Tree

Richard King’s medium is barbed wire, which he carefully twists and bends into balls, cornucopia and various other creations, including a Christmas tree that defy further decoration. King Farm Christmas Trees also raises and sells, you guessed it, o’tannenbaums.

Regional authors abound, and are so numerous we dare not mention just one. Okay, just one, The History of the Country School, by David Burton. Copies of the book are available for $20 (plus $2 shipping and handling) from the MU Extension Center in Greene County, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, Mo. 65807.

Home Grown Books, located within KeenBean Coffee Roasters, 1031 South Market Street in Mt. Vernon, specializes on books by regional authors. There are many, and you can order online.

If your tastes run to something more artistic, Terry and Gabe Bloodworth of Springfield Hot Glass have been creating masterpieces from molten glass for two generations in downtown Springfield.

Ozark Mountain Popcorn has every imaginable flavor of freshly popped corn, and you know it’s fresh because we told you so.

Don Sensabaugh's Knife

Don Sensabaugh's knife making is without equal.

Don Sensabaugh is a knife maker without peer. His creations aren’t just for cutting. They are works of art for those who appreciate the skill of a craftsman who combines bone, steel, brass and bronze with an average of 100 hours of patience. One pounded steel blade can require more than 500 folds.

For what might be the most memorable meal of your life, the staff of Colleen Smith’s Tea Bar & Bites at Pickwick and Cherry in Springfield, will create and cater “Drama on a Plate” from scratch every course necessary to entertain the ones you love, including her renowned Chocolate Raspberry Torte. Ho, ho, ho!

If your gift-giving lends itself to libations, winemakers are bringing back the vineyards that saved the French from root rot (see Norton grape). Missouri wines are regaining their stature in competition, and now averages more than $20 a bottle, and still they cannot make enough to satisfy their regional customers. There’s also OOVDA Winery north of Springfield, Stone Hill, Meyer Vineyards, St. James and more.

If you’re looking for something a bit more pungent, Jim Blansitt’s Copper Run Distillery distills both dark rum and moonshine. Not just any old concoction, either. When a nationally known distiller comes calling to study your methods, you must be doing it right. At $30, you may wish someone is thinking it is better to give than receive.

Float Trip Pickles

Float Trip Pickles start sweet but turn hot and tasty.

Float Trip Pickles (also relish and jalapenos), seem like a sweet gift, but then it gets hot and tasty. Marina Backes’s Cranberry Chutney (see Hail to the Chefs on page 34) has the same effect, each one a tasty holiday house-warming gift available in several area markets.

Lest you think we have forgotten gardeners, check out the Papercrete pots at Garden Adventures created by Lee Coates, the “Mr. Peggy” at Peggy’s Flowers. Made from paper pulp, vermiculite and concrete, Coates has created a line of paper pottery that is light-weight, functional and durable. And if you ask nice, he will show you how to make it in one of his classes.

Burl Bowl

Exquisite wooden bowl turned on a lathe by a member of the Woodturners of SW Missouri.

And we did promise you a definitely decadent possibility. Meet James Hall, a sculptor whose bronze creations are in the Close Memorial Gardens and front and center at Fort Leonard Wood (one is an eight-foot recreation of a WWII soldier. James is agreeable to creating a bronze bust of your Main Squeeze or some figment of your imagination. If you have to ask how much, well, it’s negotiable.

Finally, a word about memberships. Truly, the gift that can give of gifting for a lifetime is a membership in Friends of the Garden ($25 and up); Friends of the Zoo ($65), Friends of the Library (still $5) and enrollment in the Greene County Master Gardener classes ($135, enrollment limited).

And finally, if you truly want to take the stress out of giving, think about giving to someone who really needs a helping hand. After all, most of us of a certain age have all we could ever want, more than we need, can’t really think of anything we couldn’t live without, and know that there are so many among us, particularly children, who have nothing.

Help one of these, the least among us, and you will have helped yourself to the best gift of all. It’s the reason for the season, and you’ll be the next best thing to stress free.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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