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Homeyer: Gray Days

December has all too many gray days. Days when the sun doesn’t shine, or makes only a token appearance. I like sunny days, or even snowy days. But not gray and drizzly days. I do my best to combat gloominess in a number of ways.

First, I put up holiday lights, both in the house and outside. I keep a nice strand of energy-efficient LED lights shining brightly in my office on gray days. It picks up my spirits. I‘ve hung blue lights on my big magnolia tree behind the house, and they look great against the snow, starting at dusk. And out front, I run a strand of colored lights through the branches of the Canadian hemlock trees.

As a gardening guy, I have all kinds of tricks up my sleeve. I start with paperwhites in small bowls on windowsills and tables. These are the easiest of bulbs to force indoors. Get half a dozen and arrange them in a bowl half full of stones. Then add water until it just kisses the bottom of the bulbs, place it in a dark place for a week or so, then bring it out and place it on a sunny windowsill. In a month to six weeks, you’ll have a wonderful display of daffodil-like fragrant flowers that will look lovely for weeks.

I also patronize my local florist. Since my garden is done for the year, the quick fix is to buy flowers. Paperwhites started today won’t be ready for weeks. But for $10 I can get a bouquet of flowers to grace the kitchen counter or the dining room table. I ask my florist to put together a bunch of flowers that will last for a week or more. That means no iris or peonies, but plenty of chrysanthemums and alstroemeria. Fresh flowers do wonders for my disposition.

Back in October I planted daffodils and crocus in pots. It’s not too late, if you haven’t planted any bulbs yet for forcing. Crocus take 8 weeks, daffodils take 12 weeks of cold dormancy and tulips need 4 months, so you’d better get started if you plan to force some spring flowers. When the time comes and the bulbs wake up and push their noses out of the soil mix, I’ll bring them up to the warmth of the house from my cold basement. And they will blossom, bringing the feel of spring to me.

I know people that sit under bright lights on dark days, stimulating their brains to think it’s summer. Me? I just keep fresh flowers on the table.

Henry Homeyer is an author, columnist and a blogger at the
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