20 Ways To Welcome Spring

By Dawn Williams, Senior News Associate Publisher

After being cooped up and encumbered by the weather for so many months, spring makes us breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate. The deepest thanks one can express for a gift received – and the changing season certainly qualifies – is to use it with gratitude. Here are 20 ways to welcome spring with gratitude for the easier living it brings.

Plant or purchase early spring vegetables. A few common crops include peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. If you live in or near a rural area, watch for farm stands along country roads, where you’ll find the freshest produce available. When planting your own, read package directions for the best time to plant. Some seeds will germinate with traces of snow still on the ground; others need to wait until the ground thaws.

Take a walk through your neighborhood. Notice the early signs of spring. Trees develop leaf buds. Forsythia and magnolias bloom. Grass begins to turn green again, and the sound of bird song is in the air. It may still be a bit brisk, but each day brings us closer to the fullness of summer.

Adopt a pet. If you’ve been considering adding a furry friend to your home, now is the time. House breaking is far easier without snow and ice on the ground, and you’ll have the whole season to help your pet acclimate to its new family. Contact your local humane society to ask about senior pet adoption events. Older pets save you some of the work involved in socializing and training them, and because they are least often considered by potential adopting families, they often come at a reduced adoption fee.

Host a “welcome spring” party. Consider it the official end of the isolation many of us experience during inclement winter months. Invite attendees to bring their favorite spring food to share, invigorating your bodies after all that winter comfort food. Enjoy music, camaraderie, pastel colors, and exchange ideas about future events as warm weather approaches.

Clean up winter damage and debris. Check both house and yard for any damage caused by cold weather, high winds, and frequent precipitation. Have your gutters cleaned, caulking around windows and doors checked, and remove any dead vegetation in your gardens. Some projects, such as exterior painting or deck treatment, may have to wait for slightly warmer weather, so make a list of future projects.

Visit natural habitats. See the best spring has to offer by visiting arboretums, public gardens, and even the zoos. Northern Illinois offers numerous forest preserves, hiking and bike paths, and other venues that allow you to witness the reawakening of the natural world.

Plan spring and summer outings. How often throughout the winter months do you hear of an attraction you’d love to attend, but let the opportunity to pass because of the struggle of winter travel? Before you forget that concert hall you want to visit, the museum you want to wander, the seminar you’d like to attend, make a list of what interests you, and begin enjoying those outings as weather permits.

Organize an egg hunt. Whether it’s held in your backyard for neighborhood children, or a community event in a local park, egg hunts are a true harbinger of spring. Egg hunts are traditionally held just before Easter, which falls this year on April 21.

Freshen your home. The tradition of spring cleaning has a long history tied to both culture and religion. It also serves a practical purpose. Catch those wayward dust bunnies that secretly accumulated in unseen spaces. Wash the winter film from your windows. Take advantage of the longer days and increased energy to go beyond the basics, making every nook and cranny as clean and fresh as the spring season.

Open the windows. After being closed in for so many months, both you and your home will benefit from a breath of fresh air. If it’s a little brisk, layer up, air out the house, and enjoy dropping the barriers between you and Mother Nature for a little while.

Buy cut flowers. Nothing says spring like flowers! You can find them at affordable prices at most grocery stores. The colors of spring will enliven you and add a touch of elegance to your home while the last throes of winter leave us.

Set your clocks ahead. Daylight Saving Time begins on March 10. The night before, set your clocks ahead one hour. While we’ll again be waking up while it’s still dark for a few weeks, having sunlight well into the evening makes the days seem longer, and makes it possible for many of us to be more productive.

Take a vacation. A cruise to the Bahamas or a trip to affordable resorts in Mexico give you a taste of summer while the last vestiges of winter abate. Closer to home, seeing the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington DC is a spectacular sign of spring. Getting away clears the mind, provides new experiences, and leaves you refreshed when you return home.

Attend the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Thousands of people from Illinois and surrounding states consider this event the official kick-off of spring. The event will be held March 20 to 24 at Navy Pier. Visit www.ChicagoFlower.com for more information and tickets.

Take advantage of nice days. Feel the warmth of the sun, the gentle breeze, the budding green, and the smell of fresh earth. Revel in the tactile pleasure that spring brings.

Bring the scents of spring indoors. Something as simple as burning candles imbued with the scent of your favorite flowers will lift your spirits. Take it further with forced bulbs. You can purchase potted spring flowers like tulips, hyacinth, and crocus almost ready to bloom.

Start spring home improvement projects. As mentioned earlier, some tasks require slightly warmer weather, but there is much that can be done now. At the very least, you can begin getting estimates from contractors, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, plan out each project, get your measurements and supply list, and buy your materials so you’re ready.

Plan a flower garden. Northern Illinois gardeners get a head start on the season with pansies, which can withstand the lingering cool temperatures. We also finalize plans for vegetable and ornamental gardens, so we can prepare and purchase desired plants as soon as weather conditions allow.

Renew your resolutions. The majority of us had good intentions, but gave up on our goals before the end of January. The sense of renewal spring gives us makes it a good time to get back on track with our resolutions.