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The Plant Cozy

 

For some deeply scientific reason, beyond my understanding, Mom has decided not to bring some of her plants indoors for the winter, but she also didn’t want them to remain unprotected from the elements, and therefore she made a plant cozy. It’s like a cross between a sleeping bag and a snow suit, filled with warming materials and wrapped around the outdoor plants. She chose bright colors, in case someone failed to notice that the plants were protected, or because the plants have their own unique fashion sense.

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The famous plant cozy!

The plants inside of the cozies are sweet potato and dahlia tubers that need to be kept at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally they would be kept in the refrigerator, Mom said, but she assumed that I would not appreciate the plants taking over the shelves and replacing, you know, the food.

It seems unfair, though, that only one set of plants get a cozy. Where is the sweater for the raspberry bush? Or the stocking cap for the paw paw tree? Could none of the maple trees use mittens for their branches? For that matter, the poor car must be freezing overnight. Couldn’t she at least have a scarf?

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Maybe fifteen hats for the Hydrangea?

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A few thousand mittens (and a ladder?)

I have tried to put the dogs into their own cozies, or jackets, but this has been largely unsuccessful. They shake off what they can shake off, or roll in the mud if possible, and then glare at me until the offending garment is removed. I do not have a death wish, and therefore have not tried to put boots on either of them (though they would look adorable!).

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They wore their jackets, once.

The dogs prefer not to get dressed at all before going outside. They like to feel the wind in their hair as they run across the yard, without any impingement on their freedom of movement. And neither of them is especially sensitive to the cold. They don’t seek out hot spots on the floor, or curl under available blankets, though Cricket is a big fan of cozying up with her people.

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“I’m free!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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“Who needs freedom?”

Generally, I do not get too involved with the gardening. I hear stories about stunted carrots, and ground cover, and I sneak raspberries from the yard when they are in season, but that’s about it. The plant cozy, though, keeps drawing my attention. It reminds me of an especially embarrassed ten-year-old girl (AKA me), wearing her enormous new winter jacket to school for the first time, while everyone else chose sedate black wool coats that year.

For now, most of the plants and flowers are coming to life in quilt designs and photos on the computer. The vegetable garden is in sleep mode for the winter, with, appropriately enough, a blanket of leaves to keep it warm. The flowers are gone, and the leaves are mostly scattered under the snow, waiting to become rich soil. We don’t have the yearly seedling nursery in the dining room, yet, but there is a pile of seed catalogs growing on the coffee table, biding their time.

I think retirement has finally allowed Mom to relax into her creativity. She spends hours and hours playing with color and shape, trying to learn new skills in quilting and photography, and whatever else seems like it could widen her creative vision. I wish she’d been able to pursue all of these things earlier in her life, but having kids, and having to work to feed said kids, got in the way for a long time. I think Miss Butterfly has been able to remind her Grandma that play deserves just as much of your time and energy as other disciplines, and Miss Cricket has taught Grandma to be stubborn and stick to her own way of seeing things. I think the plants secretly appreciate Mom’s new way of seeing the world, even if the other plants on the block look at them askance for being colorful over the winter.

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Butterfly loves to oversee Grandma’s quilting projects.

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And Cricket is more paws on in her approach.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

71 responses »

  1. I tried boots on my dog our first winter in Michigan (the snow and/or rock salt got stuck in her paws) but she kicked them off.

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  2. haha – I love Cricket’s very close attention to what’s going on!

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  3. My cats are indoor cats and Parker manages to know exactly where the heat blows in the kitchen and drape herself on the counter or window sill. I love the photo of Cricket and her freedom–who’s going to argue with that?!

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  4. I love the plant cozy – how creative! I’m glad your mother is able to pursue the activities she loves to do. By the way, those quilts sell for quite a bit around here.

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  5. Love this post. Made me smile.

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  6. Very creative Idea! Why Not?

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  7. Very Japanese of your Mum to be putting cosies on the plants. The Japanese do that too in winter. Very good idea for those plants that needa little more protection in winter. Shame Ican’t do something against the heat we have been having here in Sydney. Watering is the only solution, even under the shade the plants cop the heat.

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  8. Love the plant cozy! My mother used to spread hay over our garden in winter.

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  9. Butterfly and Cricket look adorable in their jackets. I wish your mom happy retirement. The quilting project looks so nice.

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  10. I can relate to having a retired mother who is into all manner of creative projects. Just glad I don’t have to live with her! You must have the patience of a saint.

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  11. Maggie loves her little jacket, but then has always felt the cold as she doesn’t seem to get a thicker coat for the colder weather. She still moults (at present and driving us nuts especially as the really cold months haven’t arrived yet!) at least twice a year and just when we think it’s finished, she’ll start again. Great photos of your babies Rachel, especially the helping paws!

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  12. I’ve seen plants wrapped in burlap, but never brightly covered cushions. I should shock my neighbors and try it!

    On another note, I tried putting “boots” on my younger dog when she injured her paw. Needless to say, she found a way to take them off. She really was adorable, though.

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  13. What a great post Rachel. I can just picture all the cozied up plants. Made me laugh. Great way to keep busy too 🙂

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  14. I do hope the plants survive. Nice post

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  15. Here people seem to knit scarves around trees. Pretty fun to think of the knitter sitting there wrapping the tree. I like Crickets color advice to Mom.

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  16. We’re still getting radishes and the limes, lemons, and oranges are turning ripe.

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  17. Hunydog got a large (really too big for her) jacket from a kind neighbor. The jacket is a hand-me-down, because neighbor bought it for her dog (also a chihuahua) who is a boy but failed to notice that it had a very long belly cover. She took him out for walkies and pee time and every time he’d try to pee, he’d simply get a confused look on his face and drop to the ground looking frustrated. Finally she noticed he could not ‘go’ without peeing on himself (and the jacket), so she was looking for an opportunity to recycle the jacket. Huny, being a girl, didn’t mind the long belly cover bit, but she did mind being encased in a jacket AT ALL. By the time we got home after our test run with the jacket, she had her shoulders completely out the front opening and was vigorously trying to wriggle out of the thing altogether. She, like Cricket and Butterfly, prefers au natural to clothed.

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  18. Golden Brodie here. Butterfly is adorable. Looking for her in the future posts.!

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  19. Rosie doesn’t like to wear a coat either, but when it feels like its below zero, I put it on her. She mopes and looks sad until I take it off. Maybe its a Cockapoo thing. 🙂

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  20. As someone who still has limited luck over-wintering dahlia tubers, I’m fascinated by your mom’s method! Also, I have tried to make my dog wear snow boots, to no avail. This has, however, resulted in much laughter from my end,…so there’s’ that. 🙂

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  21. Once again you had me laughing out loud, Rachel! My very first beagle, Scooter took offense when I tried to tie a ribbon on her during the holidays — smart dogs!

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  22. I love reading about Cricket and Butterfly! I’ve never seen the boots go over well. Ha!

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    • Thank you! There’s a dog in my neighborhood, I think he’s a Boston terrier, who wears little red boots every time he goes out for a walk. I can’t even imagine the amount of treats involved in that process.

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  23. My dogs deeply despise their winter coats as well. Scout and Max act like statues and freeze in place. Scout will eventually start moving (ears pinned back and tail tucked), but will keep shaking trying to get it off. Max will not budge until the coat is removed. Mickey handles wearing a coat the best, but he will still try to shake it off.

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  24. We protect our roses with “rose cones”, which are pressed paper containers – they look like up-turned flower pots – filled with straw and surrounded by more straw.

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  25. I loved seeing your mom with her quilting squares – good for her for letting her creativity roam as free as Butterfly and Cricket…:)

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  26. Oh I love this post. How nice for all of you to live together.

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  27. Love, love this post! And your dog is so cute!

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  28. Fantastic post and I am so impressed that your mum can spend time on her knees comfortably. Quilting is such a wonderful hobby and so creative, the sky’s the limit.

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  29. I hope the sweet potatoes appreciate the extra love, and that the paw paw realizes it probably doesn’t need a cozy.

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  30. What a lovely post. Here’s to your Mum’s creative projects and Misses Cricket’s and Butterfly’s help !! 🙂

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  31. Cricket reminds me of my former Service Dog, Houston. He had his nose literally touching everything from “helping” repairmen with the air conditioner to lab techs drawing my blood!

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  32. It’a a good thing I never had to make my own dog Texas wear any jackets – who knows what he might do to them! I live in a tropical area, but sometimes my mum will make him wear hats or headbands for mini photoshoots 😉 He really enjoys having his photo taken in spite of everything.

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  33. Dogs look so cute in their coats , the plants that is a great idea tell mum. I cover my Tubers outside in the outside shed. Love your words here , lovely post.

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