A motley crew of 23 costumed characters descended on my house this beautiful afternoon. Ghosts, goblins, princesses and pirates from around the neighborhood gathered to celebrate a belated Halloween, many accompanied by their good-natured, but a little-bit-embarrassed, big-uns.
Wearing a blue gingham pinafore, braids and ruby slippers, I, Nana Dorothy for the day, led the Munchkins down the brick road toward Saturday’s outdoor gathering of the Kids Kraft Klub. (Okay, the “slippers” were actually flip-flops and the “road” a mere 50-foot path paved with rust-colored bricks, but imagination goes a long with with the creative spirit of this Klub!) Once we quit chasing puppy Papi around the yard and accepted that there was no way he’d willingly remain in a basket as Toto, we settled down to chat about what was going on in our individual lives, the books we’ve been reading, new things happening in school and concerns that all of us share, especially the recent acts of violence headlining the news this week. It seemed as if the adults particularly benefited from this opportunity to speak calmly, lovingly with the children, reassuring them that Mom and Dad understood their tearful fears, firmly stressing that they’d always do their best to protect them.
In this peaceful environment, surrounded by glorious autumn foliage, entertained by plump, nut-scavenging squirrels scrambling across the lawn, we noticed multiple bird flocks migrating southward in advance of the forthcoming frigid months. But because Middle Tennessee is relatively temperate in comparison to the northern United States, we are never entirely avian-free, although their usual natural food supply is sorely depleted by cold weather. For this reason, the Klub decided to make simple feeders today that will not only provide snacks for swift and stealthy squirrels, but are also eco-friendly because once the nuts and seeds are eaten, the holders will likely fall to the ground where they will biodegrade during winter, thus enriching the soil below.
Piled atop some tables were the supplies we needed: cardboard tubes from empty bathroom tissue rolls (we also used paper towel tubes cut in thirds); yarn, cotton cord and string leftover from old packages; scissors; very inexpensive peanut butter*; wild bird seed mix (don’t forget that dollar stores can be a penny-pincher’s BFF!); shallow baking pans; pie tins; a big spoon to scoop out the peanut butter* and; plenty of soapy, washable rags, plus buckets of rinse water. (Please note that the quantity of craft materials depends entirely on the number of feeders desired.)
Were you here, you’d have been politely asked to:
1) Pour two or three inches of seed mix into each pan;
2) Scoop out several globs of peanut butter* and plop them onto the tins;
3) Cut the cord, string or yarn into lengths about 30 inches long and thread them through the tubes, tying the ends into strong knots;
4) Using bare hands, slather each tube completely with peanut butter*;
5) Roll the tube in the bird seed, pressing down just enough until you can’t see any cardboard or peanut butter*;
6) Do it over and over again ’til you run out of supplies and everyone is giggling, covered in peanut butter and bird seed, and a few folks are sneaking licks at their icky, sticky fingers! (Don’t freak out if they manage to eat a little seed; it isn’t very tasty.)
Then, as the littlest Klubster likes to say, came the “most funnest” part: Once the work space was tidied, ourselves made presentable and fruit juice-fortified, we set off to spread the wealth. It took almost three hours, but every family on the block was given at least one official Kids Krafts Klub Bird Buffet. Because a few of the residences along the way are apartments, we brought along some twigs and short branches that had fallen from the maples and magnolias in my yard; these we gave to the people who didn’t have their own trees upon which to hang the feeders.
There’s no doubt that the sight of an oddly garbed group of big and little-uns parading down the street raised many a curious eyebrow this afternoon, but everyone we visited enthusiastically accepted our gifts and immediately installed them, including the apartment dwellers who propped the branches into their windows and door frames. Every person in the neighborhood sent us on our way with happy grins, heartfelt hugs, enthusiastic expressions of encouragement and loads of leftover Halloween candy.
To once again quote the tiniest Klubster: “It was the bestest ‘twig or tweeting’ ever!”
* AN IMPORTANT NOTE TO FOLKS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES: Please DO NOT ingest or come in contact with peanut butter when crafting this project. Use a vegetable-based solid shortening instead. The birds and squirrels won’t care; however, you will, especially if you experience a serious or severe allergic reaction to peanut butter!