A Priceless Gift

Night Sky Viewing Cancelled.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Trails:  Groomed- Excellent                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is the season of giving and receiving,  and last week, Crossroads received a priceless gift from our friends at The Nature Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy  is donating the Ida Bay Forest to Crossroads at Big Creek

The Nature Conservancy received the property as a bequest from the Ida Bay Estate in 1995 and since then has managed the site as a natural area in accordance with Mrs. Bay’s wishes.  Donation of the property to Crossroads required approval from the Door County Circuit Court, and that approval was granted by Judge D. Todd Ehlers on December 13. The Conservancy’s donation of the property will come with an Endowment to be held by the Door County Community Foundation.  Earnings from the Endowment will be used to allay annual costs for stewardship of the property.

The property includes a beautiful old-growth forest of large red oaks, tall pines, white cedar, hemlock, sugar maple and beech.  The Ida Bay Forest will be an outstanding addition to Crossroads present landholdings.  The 64.69 acre tract is bordered by Cove Road, Canal Road and Zenith Street and lies less than a mile from Crossroads’ Utah Street entrance. At their nearest points the properties are separated by only a quarter mile.

Crossroads is exceedingly grateful to the Conservancy for this gift.  After several years of talks and planning it is exciting to see our joint efforts coming to fruition. Crossroads will continue to maintain the site as a natural area, open for nature study and quiet recreation.

While researching the lecture, the History of the Christmas tree—which we will repeat Thursday, December 26 at 2:00– I found many references describing how the 16th Century religious reformer, Martin Luther invented the Christmas tree.  I hasten to say that  Lutheran scholars shave tried to verify this legend to no avail. But though the story almost certainly is fiction, it is charming.

Supposedly, one winter evening as Martin Luther walked  home  through an evergreen forest,  he lifted his eyes to tops of the trees and saw sparkling stars through the snow covered branches. Overcome with awe (as one is when one looks at stars), Luther  cut a fir tree  and took inside his home and fastened candles to its boughs to remind his family of stars and heaven.

Even if it isn’t true, it ought to be. This week, reflecting on the marvelous gift of the Ida Bay Forest while walking through the old growth evergreens, too felt  awe for the beauty of the earth and the wonders of the skies. And this is a gift we will share will the whole community.

At Crossroads this holiday week, we will try to share the history of the holidays and the wonders of nature through a variety of activities.

Another legend, even more unlikely than the Luther Christmas tree story, is the belief that animals talk on Christmas Eve. We know for a fact that the friendly beasts in our Wisconsin Wildlife Exhibit are mute during the holidays. But this is a great time to talk about animal fur—-and then, after a short lesson, to cover animal cookies with frosting “fur.” Our Family Frosted Critter Program will be held Friday, December 27 at 2:00.

Saturday   at 2:00, we invite families to help re-decorate the FISH TREE, the tree located in the entry level of the Collins Learning Center. Because the tree is in the area of our Great Lakes Ecosystem Display,  Friends of Crossroads have been collecting lake-related ornaments and volunteer Sandy Ott has added to the collection this year–and we can’t wait till next year to put them up. (This will be a great chance for visiting family to join in a holiday tradition.) And we will probably have some of the “frosted critter cookies” and hot cider available for hungry tree trimmers.




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