By now, many of us are getting just a little weary of short days, long nights, and persistently cold weather.
If you could use a little uplift and inspiration, try these easy, all-natural decorating ideas that honor the bare-bones beauty of this late-winter time, but also bring in the airy energy of early spring that is surely on its way.
Brighten up your spirits and your living space by celebrating nature!
1. Explore the remnants of garden and roadside. This is a great time to gather dry grasses and seed-tipped stalks to make airy, rustic arrangements. Fill in with fresh branches of pine or yew to remind yourself of the undying energy of nature’s green.
2. Give some thought to birds. For many of us, the skies are bare now, but soon the birds will return, filling the treetops with nests and our ears with song. Honor the pleasure birds bring us by placing a downed nest (or a twig-nest from the craft store) in a prominent place. You may want to place three or four egg-shaped stones inside. Hanging a picture or photo of your favorite birds where you will see it often can be uplifting. And if you have found cast-off feathers on your rambles throughout the year, now may be a perfect time to display them.
3. Hanging crystals. Clear quartz crystal points make perfect icicle-mimics, and will catch and refract the light beautifully if you hang them in a sunny window. Every time you see them, these lovely frozen-looking crystals will remind you that soon the ice will melt.
4. Force a bulb or a flowering branch. Although the snow may be piling up outside our walls, the seeds and bulbs are beginning to stir deep underground. For those of us who just can’t wait for some flowering in our lives, it’s easy and fun to place a few dead-looking narcissus bulbs in a container filled with pebbles and water and see what happens in just a few weeks. If you cut a branch or two from a seemingly-dead tree and put it in a bucket of warm water, a similar miracle occurs. It takes a little time, but the lesson of spring is a potent one, year after year. Things may look dried-up and dead, but with a little warmth and water, life blooms again.
5. Think airy and pastel. Transparent or semi-sheer fabrics like organza or chiffon lighten up winter-dark spaces, diffusing and transforming the light. And the colors at this time of year are amazing. The other morning, when I looked out the window just before dawn, I saw that the early light had turned the snow heaped along the roadside a startling periwinkle blue. (There are sometimes unexpected benefits to being an early riser!) The skies are fascinating in January, with their many shades of cool grays, blues, and lavenders, or the blush of peaches and pinks, and the triumphant radiance of gold. Find inspiration from the shades of dawn and dusk with accents in the same colors: A small area rug, a toss pillow, or a slipcover in the tender colors of this season will add more light and pleasure to your home.
6. Light candles. One friend says, “I don’t mind the long nights and the dark days. They just give me an excuse to burn more candles!” We suggest beeswax, with their lovely honey scent and color, or vegetable-based candles with non-leaded wicks, for safe and non-toxic light.
7. Clean out and clear out. In late January, it is traditional in many Western European cultures to clear out the dried and dusty evergreens from your winter holiday decorations. It may be a little early for an intensive spring cleaning, but there is a certain wisdom to making our homes feel more open, fresh and expectant, giving the gifts of spring some room to enter in. Clear away clutter and debris to loosen up the energy in your home. It will help you to feel more vibrant!
By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother, (Inner Traditions, 1995). Copyright (c) 1995 by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother, (Inner Traditions, 1995).