Whiskers on kittens, raindrops on roses — of course these are a few of my favorite things.

I even like snow on my nose and eyelashes, but there are many other moments throughout the day that make me happy.
It’s Christmastime and I love the smell of fresh pine. The smell greets me as I walk down the stairs or brush against the tree. As hurried as the holidays can be, even when staying home, I try to take in the smell and remember it is only with me for a few weeks.

The squirrels that race up and down the trees in the yard. It is fun to watch them scurry along the fence tops, then up the tree trunks leaping from branch to branch. I have my own backyard circus! When it is time to relax, they sun themselves across the deck railing and it makes me laugh. Oh, they cause me extra work — I must protect planted bulbs and put netting over pots — but it is worth it. They entertain me year-round.

The deer. Our relationship is complicated. They are one of my favorite things about living in the little house on a big hill; they are beautiful, graceful, yet destructive. They have eaten or broken more plants that I can name, but each spring I am in awe that they raise their fawns under the thicket of branches in my lower yard. I have taken countless photos, spent hours asking them to eat that old bush and not my tender garden plants. Maybe I will never grow tulips or black-eyed Susans, but I will have sightings of day-old fawns, handsome bucks and female does who come to meet me when I step out in the mornings.

Living with deer has taught me to appreciate deer-resistant plants. Of course, nothing is deer-proof, and I continue to experiment with what plants they will ignore. Lambs ear, Coreopsis, Echinacea, peonies and butterfly bushes are all on the list of plants that will survive and thrive among the wildlife.

The fairy garden under the big tree continues to be one of my favorite things. This sweet garden has been the spot for kids to enjoy, outgrow and then come back to again. I have fun adding seasonal elements such as pumpkins and Santa hats and love seeing that it has had a visitor who moved the characters around to create a new version of the garden and tell their story. Trust me, there is always a story. My fairies have had barbecues, birthday parties and epic battles under the tree.

Warm winter days that allow me to dig around in the soil. I find a little outside chore that lets me get my hands in the earth. This never fails to make me happy. I am not one for fancy manicures, but that feeling of washing with a nailbrush, soapy water and then creamy lotion is a good way to end an afternoon.

My spot. My favorite chair with my favorite tea in my favorite mug is where I go “when the dog bites or the bee stings”. It is where I go to be comfy. It’s big so there is plenty of room for the pup to join me and snuggle in, half on the pillow and half on my lap. From this spot, we can watch the birds rest on the holly tree, watch TV or take catnaps in the evening. Here, books and magazines surround me. Yes, my spot is one of my favorite things.
“Silver white winters that melt into springs” is every gardener’s favorite thing. We know the restorative powers of a long winter’s nap, but as the snowdrops, crocus and other plants peep through the ground, gardeners are a bit giddy. It’s our time. We brave the cold winds and often-muddy earth to say hello to the tiny shoots of life and count the days until we sow seeds.

I could go on and on about my favorite things, but many are just things. My favorite moments are in the garden with the pup who will “help” me dig, then “supervise” from a shady spot on the porch. More favorites include the many friends, fellow gardeners and readers who share their thoughts and plants with me. It is such fun to think of you and learn from you throughout the year. I can’t wait to see what we discover in the new year.