bringing the outdoors in

There’s a flower shop in my neighbourhood which used to be an old green grocer, with wooden stands arranged out front beneath awnings. Round the side are the original market stalls still filled with seasonal fruits, vegies and preserves. This time of year, they’re filled with Christmas greenery, berry-laden stems, handmade wreaths, pine cones, rose hips, clusters of Southern Magnolia leaves and yards of cedar boughs. Attached is a small yard filled with Christmas trees of all sizes. I’ve walked by a few times, pausing to admire the bounty that fills the bins and baskets.

But all I do is look … and inhale deeply. There’s plenty of inspiration to be found, and it’s quite intoxicating for someone like myself who loves to bring elements of the outdoors in, especially at Christmas. To be surrounded by greenery on the greyest of days lifts my spirit. There’s something odd and dislocating about buying pinecones and rose hips in cellophane bags, especially when they’re available aplenty in this neighbourhood to anyone who wants to forage. (Granted, it’s easier for most to pull out their wallets). I’m not about to buy something that I can easily find on an afternoon’s walk. Pinecones are as common as street lamps! But I’m also one for the chase. I love the element of surprise, never knowing what you might find in the woods, on a street corner or surrounding a barren lot. The other day, simply by leaving my apartment and walking south (for the first time in over a month) and not taking my usual route, I made the serendipitous discovery of deep red Winter Berry bushes beside our adjoining sister building. A snip here, another few there–I consider it offering my pruning services free of charge!—and I have what the florist is charging 20 dollars for. Our nearby park which is at the entrance to acres of ravines, has masses of hardy sage and rosemary (border after border) that will soon be blanketed by snow. A few snips are all I need and my mood is brightened. Never leave the house without a pair of clippers. Even in the city.