HELEN LANG: Be prepared for December

Oh, Heavens to Betsy it’s December! It can be a great month, full of lovely surprises.

Oh, Heavens to Betsy it’s December! It can be a great month, full of lovely surprises and good weather or a month full of not-so-nice surprises and dismal wet days. Let’s hope for the first one, shall we?

I must admit I hate Christmas shopping, especially for family. One is never sure of what the recipient wants, likes, hates or just doesn’t care about. I solved it (from my point-of-view) last year by giving money to World Vision and sending the receipts to the surprised (and possibly disappointed) recipients. I consoled myself by picturing the happy folks who got the much-needed money.

No longer having a car (I miss it so badly) I don’t have to worry about getting the winter tires installed or anti-freeze for the windshield wipers or getting the heater checked to make sure it is working perfectly … all those pesky things that I no longer have to do.

December, which means winter, short days, long underwear, runny noses, gloves but also means skating, skiing, tearing down a steep hill on a sled and Christmas and New Years Eve, means fun!

So welcome December! It’s nice to see you again.

Before the weather gets really winter-y, a few things to do outside might be: mulching newly planted shrubs, tucking in those last few bulbs, putting reemay cloth over delicate plants (and tying it on, so it stays on when the wind blows), bringing in a lot of firewood (stack the extra in the utility room so you don’t have to go out in the freezing cold to get more), stocking up on bird feed and buying a few extra chunks of suet for the birds who prefer fat.

Maybe its time to turn the compost. A bucket of sand is handy when paths get slippery. Some candles are great if the power fails during a storm but a lantern is, of course, safer. Buy several extra tins of soup (just in case).

In other words, the Boy Scout motto applies: “Be prepared!”

That’s enough advice for today, I’m sure.

Next week I’ll try to give you a possible list of gifts for gardeners and maybe my recipe for some amazingly tasty Christmas cookies. Mind you, if you make them this early, you’ll have to make more before the big day.

I make some this early as they get shipped to a Grandson in Edmonton who is crazy about them. I sent his wife the recipe last year but have no idea if she acted on it, so I better be prepared to make them. I’ve already bought the butter. Margarine just doesn’t quite do it, somehow, for these special cookies for a special Grandson!

I’m teasing, they are all special, all 14 of them.

But most of them have no idea about these cookies and I’m keeping it a secret!

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.