The Red of December

During this time of year I love seeing the color of red in the scenery. Not the red of anger, but the red of the holidays. Whether it is red bows hanging from a wreath or tree, red berries placed in floral arrangements or in outdoor decorations, red lights glowing from within the home to cast a warm spell or a fleeting cardinal standing out among the bare branches of the trees. These are all items that draw my attention and make me feel a sense of calmness and peace.

Usually red is seen as a sign of warning or is symbolic of anger. But in contrast during this season, I find it has a completely opposite effect and it is very soothing.

When you are feeling red this season, I am hoping it is due to s sense of peace and harmony and not caused by the crowds in the shopping centers. Enjoy the colors of the season and let them take you away to the feeling of what Christmas is truly all about.

Keep Christmas Fresh

With the Christmas season in full swing, people are beginning to select their Christmas trees to celebrate the season. When making your selections, always make sure you are choosing a tree that is fresh and not too dry. One never wants to deal with a house fire in the event their tree is a fire hazard.

When finding the tree that you like in the available sales lots, take a look inside the tree for numerous dry needles. If there are quite a few, go to the next tree. Pines will have some in their interior due to their natural cycle of needle shedding, but spruce and fir trees will not have this same cycle.

For long needle pines such as White and Scotch, bend the needles to see if they are flexible. If they are brittle and snap, the tree is already too try for purchase. For short needle selections such as Balsam, Frasier, and Spruce, take the tree and tap the base to the pavement to see how many needles fall off….if there is considerable shedding, go to a more fresh tree. You can also bend the branches to see how flexible they remain, if they snap, this is also a bad sign.

If you are selecting your tree during sub zero temperatures, the branches may actually be frozen and snap when trying to bend…this would not dictate that the tree is dry, so be aware of the conditions around you.

Once the tree has been selected and purchased, take it home and immediately cut of 8-12″ from the base of the truck and place it in warm water, but not hot. A fresh tree will go through many gallons of water within the first week. If it is not taking up water, try adding asprin to the water or a little seltzer water to encourage the tree to draw water.

Always keep your tree watering during the time that it is up in your home and never allow the water recepticle to go dry. A happy, healthy tree will only enhance your holiday season and encourage a heavenly scent from the needles. If your tree should ever dry out while in the home and it is no longer taking in water, take it down and remove it to avoid potential dangers.

Enjoy the holiday season and have fun when selecting your tree!


The Holiday Season is Here!

The Thanksgiving holiday was an enjoyable one and went by very quickly. Always seems that time spent with the family goes by fast. Even made it through the shopping frenzy without spending a dime, guess the time has come where I don’t need to get anything and what I get others does not necessarily come from an event where people push and shove to get their material goods.

I like to select gifts for people that are of the living variety. There are many unique things to choose from during the holidays. Fresh cut flowers will always put a smile on someone’s face, especially if they are mixed with freash Christmas greens. Roses are nice and can last from 5-7 days, but snow flake daisies and mums are very long lasting and provide a wintry effect, yet still soft to teh senses.

Plants are also a wonderful way of telling someone you care and are thinking of them during the holidays. Poinsettiias are one of my favorite and you can’t beat the glorious shades of red, pink and white. They are long lasting adn can be kept from year to year with the right touch.

Christmas cactuses are another plant that are great when they are blooming. They come in shades of white, pink, red, orange and yellow. A healthy plant will produce dozens of blooms and the plants are fairly easy to continue growing from year to year. Setting them in a room where they only receive the natural daylight will always force them into bloom each and every year around Christmas or New Years.

Amaryllis bulbs are another great item for the season. Each year it seems they come out with new and exciting colors. Often times you can buy these bulbs in a kit and plant them yourself. Once planted, you can enjoy their growing progress until the bud stems open into huge blooms of different colors. In a cool setting, these blooms can last for many days.

All of these plants are easy to grow and very inexpensive to purchase, however when you gift them to others, they will make an enormous impact in so many ways.

Try to get back to the basics this Christmas season and spend less while including simple items for the ones you love. A gift of a living plant or flowers will always go a long ways in someone’s home. Be a part of the love and art of giving by sharing something that is alive and beautiful, you will feel very glad you did.


A Rumbling Memory

As I was walking to work this morning, I had to stop and wait for a train to go by. It is so nice to have a quiet zone in town just as so many other towns in the state are adopting the same practice. Not only is it a quiet existence, but it is pleasant to endure now.

Before the quiet zone was in effect, I use to shutter at the loud and long horn sounds through town, they were deafening to say the least and could be heard from miles away. Now the trains seems to gracefully pass by with a mild and mesmerizing sound.

As I waited for it to pass, it brought back memories of riding the raises through Europe. The clinking of the rails and the sound of the rocking train brought a smile to my face as I could almost feel myself riding them once again.

Sometimes we look at many annoyances around us with no other recourse to focus on other than the negative. When the situation changes at some level, we can look at things in a completely different light. In fact, some of the things around us are connected to many memories of our past and can only enhance our day when they come rushing back.

For me it was a great way to start the day by bringing out great memories of past travels!

The Greens of Winter are Arriving

I just saw my first semi of Christmas trees go down the highway. This is just another sign of the holidays soon coming. Last week I noticed many towns and cities putting up their community Christmas trees and decorating their downtown streetlights with adorments.

This past week we also had some snow and a taste of colder weather. In the coming week we have milder temperatures on the way and it will be the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and begin or finish the holiday decorating. Whether you are one of those people that just hang a few lights on the eaves of the house or those that go all out and frost the entire outdoors with enough lights to juice the town, this is the perfect time to get it done.

If you wait another week, you may encounter much colder temperatures again and soon there will just be no more time available to do these tasks as so mnay other things will beging to demand our time.

Get ahead of the game and decorate your home with the colors of your choice without the discomfort of adverse weather. When the next snows fly, you will be very glad you completed these chores early. Enjoy your weekend! 



A Cool Breeze

Well, my predictions for the weather this weekend were correct, a great deal of hype with nothing that came of it. The strom I got all excited about disappeared into the sunset with nothing more than a little rain and a dusting of snow in our area, but the lucky ones up north got what I had wanted. But one thing was correct, the weather got colder.

Last night I was outside for a spell with the dogs and the wind was blowing stronger than it had all weekend with another snow shower. It nearly felt like a storm, but it was the biting winds that caught my attention the most. The weather forecast was talking about the first cold wind chills of the season, some were already reporting nearly 15 degrees below zero for a chill. That threw a little winter reality at me quickly.

Winter in North Dakota is not necessarily known for its heavy snows, but it is famous for the dangerous wind chills that are created often with our frequented breezes in the area. It keeps the hardy ones tough and forces the wimpy ones to flee. 

Remember as the winter season progresses to dress warm when heading outdoors and to always have an winter survival kit in your car should you ever become stranded on the road. You may not encounter a problem, but if you do it is always nice to be prepared.  Stay safe and keep warm!

Rain, Snow or Sunshine

Another storm system seems to be on the way, but I am always a skeptic when it comes to storms. The warnings go out early and then they fade into nothingness. I am one of those people who enjoys a good storm, whether it is in the summer or the winter season, it exhilerates me to a natural high. When these alerts start to move across the TV screen, by heart starts to race with excitement.

Of course, 9 times out of 10 I am sorely disappointed as it seems to dissapate before it arrives or it is only a spattering of what was forecasted. I have concluded that when the warnings come out too early, it is not going to happen and when there are none…expect the worst. So far, this has been a pretty accurate rule of thumb for me.

If a storm IS on the way and it seems it will hit, I am one of the smart ones who just cancels their travel plans and stays at home. If a storm begins to brew while on the road, chances are is wasn’t forecasted and I turn around and go back or I pull off at the nearest town to stay.

Don’t rely on a false sense of security that just because you have a cell phone you are safe. These can fail to work during your greatest time of need and if you DO happen to go into the ditch in the middle of nowhere, then you are putting some else’s life in jeaopardy to come and find you in the storm….all bad scenarios. A little common sense will go a long way.

I was geared up for the impending storm this weekend, but have come to realize it probably will not hit our area….so I am keeping my expectations low. I am sure my heart will race once I see the first snow flake hoping that maybe this time, they will be correct in their forecasts.

Can we blame the weathermen on these incorrect forecasts?? Probably not as forecasting is just that, guessing what the furture will bring based on the conditions today……it is just a guess. In essence it is strictly foreseeing into the future…chances are it may be wrong.

Stay safe in your ventures as the winter season arrives as it can change within minutes regardless of forecasts.


Sign of the Times

As I was walking home from work yesterday, the first thing that I noticed was that all the election signs were finally removed from the front yards. Not that I am against the process of advertizing or anything, but frankly the sight of all those signs on each and every yard became a real eye sore to say the least. It reminds me of the scenes that I occassionally see in yards where they are over run with garden art to the point of looking like a yard sale over art. I have always felt that things that are done more simply and in moderation get a larger impact than a mess of clutter.

From now on, I will be able to enjoy the things in people’s yards on my daily walks once again and appreciate the beauty in what they are trying to achieve in the gardening world. The elimination of these signs is a great way to begin before the next season arrives along with the beauty of the holidays. Of course with the holidays, we will get another mess of advertising in our newspapers, on the billboards, and on the local tv stations. In today’s world this is just another sign of the times.

Keep your season simple and try to eliminate any unecessary clutter in your life. You will find it to be less chaotic and a bit more enjoyable. Enjoy your day!

Morning Strolls

This morning was an ideal morning for a walk. Not that I am a fan of the cold or anything, I just think that as we get more and more near winter, we begin to appreciate the nice mornings we have left to be outdoors. This morning was just one of those great mornings where the air was cool but not biting and there was absolutely no wind. That always makes for a good day. A light fog hung in the air and a damp humidity seemed to clear the airways.

I was expecting it to be lighter when I got up due to the new daylight savings time schedule, but I think there were clouds keeping the sun at bay. Either way it was so nice to be out an enjoying the silence that can only be found in the early morning hours.

On occassion, you will hear a dog barking or a car drive by. Often, you will hear the early morning chatter of the birds who seem to really enjoy being up before the sun. They seems to be the ones who truly appreciate what mornings are all about. I truly believe they congregate in the morning just to sit and watch the sunrise before taking off to look for a little breakfast treat.

Tomorrow calls for a very windy day, so the walk might not be quite as pleasant, but I can assure you, the sounds and activities will remain the same. Get out and enjoy some of the great mornings we have left for a nice walk around town or through one of the parks. It is sure a refreshing way to start the day!

I Smell Snow……

In our area there seems to be many funny sayings from people, but the funniest part about it is that we all seem to understand the meaning. The saying that “I smell snow in the air” has a great deal of truth to it in a sense. There is a certain cool crispness to the air with a slight smell of cold humidity. The presence of heavy clouds in the area, along with your entire sensory system, creates the illusion of smelling snow. You are actually smelling the elements in the air enhanced my your visual perceptions.

When one smells spring in the air, they are smelling the scents coming from the thawing ground along with the concentrated scent traces left behind in the melting snow. Sometimes the fresh scent of new blooms begin to linger in the air making one feel a sense of the season and the beginning of new life.

Many people will commonly recognize the smell in tthe air after a good rain shower during spring or summer. The smell of wet earth and growing plants is a scent that is hard to mimic in any other season.

The smell of summer is truly noticed in the later part of July and the month of August. It is enhanced with dry air and very warm temperatures. Your mind drifts off to places of solace and visions of the lakes country or the seashores to relax and cool off.

Autumn again has a scent all its own. When the leaves begin to fall we know autumn is in the air with the scent of decaying leaves and the demise of garden vegetation. You are catching the aromas of plant matter in the beginning stages of decay.

So when you hear someone mention that they can smell snow in the air, there is some factual elements to that statement. Many people will argue that you cannot smell snow, but I care to differ even if it sounds a little bizarre to folks down south. Up in the Midwest understand the true meaning behind those statements.