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I love tulips. They are one of the earliest harbingers of spring and their bright cheery colors inspire smiles year round, thanks to hot houses and quick transportation.

My Mom planted hundreds of hyacinth and tulip bulbs in her backyard garden in Charlotte, making early spring my favorite time to make the four-hour drive to visit. She planted a bunch for me when we built our house 20 years ago but eventually, the bulbs gave out.

Every year, as spring approached, I couldn’t help but regret not planting new bulbs the previous fall. I just never seemed to have the time, or I forgot until it was too late. A few warm days in February would have me watching for the daffodils to bloom and lamenting that I didn’t plan ahead and plant the tulip bulbs so I had those cheery blooms to look forward to next.

Until this year! This past fall I got it together and bought the bulbs and actually got them in the ground. My fingers were crossed after the daffodils bloomed. Tulips have a few enemies – my planting skills first and foremost. I did not inherit my Mom’s green thumb. Voles could have eaten the bulbs. Squirrels could have dug them up.

But they made it! Little green leaves poked up from the ground reaching for the early spring sun, braving the chilly nights and the gusty winds of March. I was thrilled! I checked their progress every day.

They were growing little by little. And then another tulip enemy showed up. Deer! Little nibbles on the tops of those tender green leaves. They left enough that they would continue to grow, ensuring more snackage in the future.

So, after our Great Pyrenees got a good brushing, I put little tufts of his fur around the flowers. It didn’t suit my aesthetic, but I was desperate to protect my future happiness. This little herd of six are regulars on our property and they know to run into the woods when Zuri comes out to parole his territory, which is anywhere grass grows. He graciously allows the deer to occupy the woods.

It worked! The scent of his fur around the tulips seems to be an effective deterrent and they haven’t nibbled anymore. I have 10 beautiful, cheery yellow tulips waving in the breeze and every time I walk by, I smile, and I thank my earlier self, the one who wasn’t too busy or forgetful to buy the bulbs and plant them in the fall so that I can enjoy this little bit of beauty now.

What can you do today that will make your future self thank you? Perhaps plant some seeds, buy a special cigar and put it in your humidor, sign up for a class or workshop, cultivate a new friendship, or whatever is sure to bring you joy at some future time. And be prepared to protect it from whatever natural enemies may show up.

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