For some of the people who came to the open house on Dec. 6 at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, as they drove in was the first time they saw the new education center. It is framed and work is continuing inside.

Dan Kunkle, director, said a visitor center is directly inside the doors. A receptionist's desk will be there to point visitors to where they want to go or answer questions.

To the left is the great hall, a large meeting room with an exit directly onto a deck. There is also a deck across the front - a great spot for watching the Lehigh River flow past.

The stairwell which will serve both the new building and the connected Osprey House is fire retardant. A fire in either building will take about two hours to bypass the stairwell.

"The building is planned for at the least amount of maintenance and smallest operating cost," said Kunkle. The heat is geo-thermal, which is considered the most effective though expensive to install. It is estimated heating and cooling will cost only $900 per year.

The attic had such a large open space Kunkle decided that would be a good place for his office. He had planned to keep it in the Osprey House.

The basement will have a laboratory and the library. There will be overnight accommodations for interns who come to study or work.

No decision has been made but the lobby floor will probably be slate because "we are in slate country," said Kunkle

Bill and Lorraine Mineo provided the greens and the know-how to make Christmas wreaths and swags.

Bill said they try to use all-natural materials except for the ribbon which does not come in "natural." Their wreath-making business was an offshoot of taking farm products to market.

They use grapevines to make a base upon which to add the greens. The bases were already made with visitors only having to add the greenery, pine cones, berries and/or ribbon. The grapevines are soft to wrap in circles, but then tighten as they dry, said Bill.

Lorraine holds a base up and shows how many of the grapevines have a natural hook to hang the wreath.

Usually soft white pine branches are best for the first layer. They can be woven into the grapevines. Any other greens are to add character.

As people are working Kunkle says the project was first organized by Kathy Romano five years ago. He also said it was Mineo who helped get the Nature Center up and running by offering many ideas.

Bill said they live in an area where granite and limestone come together and release nutrients. The fruit that is grown there has an intense flavor. It is also suitable for Italian vegetables.

Lorraine helped to revitalize the Easton farm market which was begun in 1752. The historical society still has the decree that formed it near the courthouse. Though the courthouse was moved the market remains on the square.

Wreaths extend the season, said Bill.

Brandon Everett, a member of the Naturalists' Club, brought holly to use in the wreaths.

By adding greens to both sides of the grapevine base the wreaths take on more of a 3-D appearance.

The Naturalists' Club provided the materials for a peanut butter and bird-seed bird feeder built on a base of a section of log. Holes were drilled and stuffed with peanut butter. Then it was rolled in bird seed.

The season's first snow added to the festivities.

The open house is an annual event. Put it on the calendar for 2010 and take home a fresh wreath or bird feeder.