I am taking my cue from the squirrels and preparing for the winter now, while the sun still shines and there is no snow on the ground.By the end of January I feel so desperate for spring, but spring doesn't arrive in these parts until (late) April. That's a long time to feel desperate for something, so this year I am taking matters into my own hands. This year, in February, I am going to put this spray-painted branch into a pretty container in my dining room and hang little felt hearts and felt strawberries on it. All summer and fall I've been on the lookout for the perfect branch. I needed to find it early so I could paint it before it got too cold to do the painting outside. I recently discovered this branch, but it is not the first perfect branch I've found in my months of searching. Oh, no. I found many perfect branches the past few months, but every time I brought one home, it would mysteriously disappear from our back deck before I got a chance to paint it. I figured the kids were taking them. When I found this perfect branch last week, I put it in the garage, right in the middle of a milk crate I was using to prop up a frame I had been painting. I figured a branch right in the middle of my painting area would be a clue that I had a plan for it. That night at dinner, just to be safe, I announced to my family "Please do not touch the branch that is in the crate in the garage." I nattered on and on about all the perfect branches that have mysteriously disappeared from the deck all summer long, and how annoying it is to have to keep finding perfect branches. My children laughed hilariously over poor dumb mom and her disappearing branches. (Why do you want to paint a branch, Mom? They don't get it.)
My husband looked a little sheepish during my tirade, and I suddenly realized he was behind the disappearing branches! The ensuing frustrated sputterings (me), countered by oh-so logical defenses (his), had the children in stitches.
After dinner my husband went outside and fished my latest perfect branch out of the yard waste bin, because, yes, he had already tossed it, even though he'd only been home for about 30 seconds before coming in to dinner. I let him make up for all his branch tossing by having him spray paint it for me. So now it's done, just waiting for my late-winter, hurry-up-spring decorating schemes.
I am also going to try my hand at forcing tulip bulbs this winter. I potted them today, and tucked them into the back of our refrigerator. If all goes as planned, I will have tulips in my dining room in February. I followed these instructions for forcing tulips.
I might also try hyacinths in water. We didn't like the smell of the paperwhites I potted last year, but the thought of pretty paperwhites nestled in a glass bowl with pebbles and water over ruled my nose, so I picked up some of those, too. The kids are going to be quite grumpy with me!