Revel in spring: Enjoy each week with this must-do list
Every year, spring is a revelation. Somehow, in the short days and long nights of winter, in the morning frost on the windshield and the blast of the furnace and the chapped knuckles and lips, we forget how good it feels.
So, that first kiss of warmth in a gentle breeze, that first plump nub on the end of a branch, that first moment the sky looks friendly blue rather than brittle blue, is a miracle. It happens slowly and subtly, but it still seems that one day the world just explodes in a riot of color and flowers and lambs and fat bees buzzing a saucy path through the spring air.
The first day of spring is March 20, but already we’re thinking of the three months that are nature’s reward for enduring winter. This year, there is joy to be had in every moment of spring, and to help us along we offer a weekly planner for getting the most out of spring.
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Week of March 13
(In anticipation of spring): Memorize a poem about spring.
Since there have been words, there have been poems celebrating spring, and most can be summarized thusly: YAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!! It’s getting warm again!!! The flowers are blooming! Life is awesome!
Here’s a good one:
The Enkindled Spring
By D.H. Lawrence
This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.
I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.
And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.
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Week of March 20
Plant real grass in an Easter basket.
Because Easter is so late this year (April 24), we have plenty of time to grow some real grass in an Easter basket, instead of resorting to that plastic stuff that the dog winds up eating. Here’s how to do it:
1. Fill a shallow pot — one that just fits inside your Easter basket and has drainage holes — with potting soil, stopping an inch below the rim. Make sure the pot has a plate or tray to drain into.
2. Sprinkle grass, rye or wheat seed generously over the soil and lightly pat down.
3. Sprinkle a very thin layer of potting soil over the seeds.
4. Moisten the soil with a squirt bottle and place the pot/basket in a sunny, warm place. Make sure the soil stays moist as the seeds germinate (use the squirt bottle).
5. A nice layer of grass should sprout within 10–12 days. Trim as needed before Easter.
Sources: http://www.ehow.com; crafts.kaboose.com; wikihow.com
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Week of May 15
Look at the baby animals.
Hop on your bike, mosey to a field somewhere and adore the frolicking, gamboling little creatures.
Is there anything cuter? Is there anything more wonderful? No, there isn’t. Just remember: Keep your distance. Mamas don’t like it when you get too close.
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Week of April 17
Dye Easter eggs.
Few things say spring like pastel-hued eggs hidden in a sunny yard, and basket-toting children scampering to find them. While the hiding and hunting are fun, the dyeing is pretty great, too.
Here’s an easy dye recipe:
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
About 20 drops of liquid food coloring
White-shelled hard-boiled eggs
Mix the water, vinegar and food coloring in a bowl or cup and immerse the eggs, turning them occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon or tongs and dry them on a rack.
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Week of May 1
Give your pet a good brushing.
May 1–7 is National Pet Week, a good time to remember that your pets are not shedding to annoy you, but because it’s getting warm. Help the critters along with a nice, soothing brushing.
For tips about springtime pet care, consult the American Veterinary Medical Association at http://www.avma.org.
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Week of May 8
Let down your guard.
You know how it is living in Colorado: One day it’s sunny and 70 degrees, and the next day it snows. But heading into the middle of May, we’ve generally been well into warm weather and spared the freak flurries. According to the Western Regional Climate Center (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu), the average maximum temperature for Grand Junction in May is 75.6 with a total historical average snowfall of .1 inch.
So, go ahead, put away those sweaters and store those boots. Barring any outrageously bizarre weather, it’s shorts and flip-flops from here on out.
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Week of March 27
Go daydreaming down the aisles of the garden center.
Make big plans, complete with diagrams. This year you’ll grow cauliflower! And maybe plant one of those hedgerow mazes you always see in British costume dramas! Your yard will be Eden!
Walk the aisles of the garden center, breathe in the earthy air, lightly trail your fingers across verdant leaves and fantasize about petunias.
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Week of April 10
Fly a kite.
Because it’s fun. Because it’s relaxing. Because windy April days were made for it. Plus, March 26 to May 1 is National Kite Month.
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Week of June 5
Make something with strawberries.
They’re in season now and fairly bursting with juicy goodness. Few things are more delicious than a bowl of fresh berries, and whether they’re folded into a jam or sliced into angel food cake, spring strawberries are always the right choice.
Sumptuous Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
2 pint baskets strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. In another bowl, blend milk and egg yolks with fork; stir into flour mixture to make a soft dough. Divide dough into 6 portions; form into balls. Moisten fingers with egg whites and pat balls out on baking sheet to 3-inch circles, spacing apart. Brush cakes with egg whites. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10–12 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove to rack; cool. Sweeten strawberries to taste. Halve cakes horizontally.
On plates, fill and garnish with strawberries and whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.
Source: California Strawberry Commission, http://www.calstrawberry.com
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Week of April 24
Gather a bouquet of spring flowers.
Just a few, enough to cheer the inside of your home the way they cheer your yard. And is anything more wonderful than the scent of lilacs floating through your home? To get maximum enjoyment from your bouquet, the Flower Promotion Organization advises:
• Store your flowers in a cool place if you can’t immediately put them in a vase.
• Make sure your vase, floral clippers and knives are clean before arranging your bouquet.
• Remove any leaves on the stems that would fall below the water line.
• Keep your fresh flowers out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources and drafts.
• Re-cut the flower stems every couple of days — trim about an inch with floral clippers or a clean, sharp knife — and put them in fresh water.
• Use a professional flower food or preservative in the water.
• As you trim the stems, downsize to a smaller vase.
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Week of May 22
Go on a picnic.
Whether it’s in your backyard, at the local park or somewhere far away and off the beaten path, food always tastes better outside.
Picnics are a perfect way to enjoy good company and good scenery and good food. So, spread out a blanket, slather on some sunscreen, get comfortable and enjoy those deviled eggs.
To get the most out of your picnic without any pesky food poisoning or botulism, the American Dietetic Association (http://www.homefoodsafety.org) advises:
• Wash your hands often, whether with soap and water or moist towelettes.
• Keep surfaces clean.
• Keep raw meat and ready-to-eat food separate; bring extra plates to do so.
• Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
• Cook hamburgers to at least 160 degrees and chicken breasts to at least 165 degrees.
• Never partially grill meat with plans to finish cooking it later.
• Defrost meat completely before grilling it.
• Pack perishables in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs, keeping the temperature below 40 degrees.
• Transport the cooler in the air conditioned part of the vehicle, rather than in the trunk.
• Don’t leave perishable food out in hot weather for more than an hour.
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Week of May 29
Go for a walk.
Especially go when the sun is beginning its descent and the temperature’s just right and everything’s golden.
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The first day of summer is June 21 and you know what that means: it’s coming. The furnace blast of western Colorado in July and August.
So use these last few days of spring to cultivate cool thoughts, to create a happy place in your home or mind to which you can retreat when it seems the whole world’s melting.