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Mar 11, 2013

Five Ways to Make Spring Arrive Faster

Meteorological Winter is officially over. Here in middle Europe we had two gorgeous days of Spring weather last week after a record amount of sunshine deficit since, oh, The Little Ice Age (the real deficit is not so bad, but it feels that way). Now we've been plunged into near-freezing temps again for the for the next few days, if not centuries (time for that Vitamin D supplement and a brisk walk around the block).

In addition to getting off the couch and going outside, there are other things we can do to offset the winter blues. Here are the ones that always work for me.

1. Plant something. Put some tomato or pepper seeds in a small plastic pot. You don't need anything fancy. Just clean out a plastic yoghurt container and punch a hole in the bottom. Fill it with store-bought dirt. A small bag of seedling or germinating soil and a packet of seeds won't set you back much. Drop in a seed or three, push them just a wee bit into the soil with a finger, and gently add water. Put the pot in a south- or west-facing window. For tomato seeds, they'll usually stick up their heads in a week or ten days. Peppers may need a little longer. If there's a radiator underneath the window supplying them with a temperature boost, it may go quicker. (Here's an elaborate planting video!) Planting the seeds is an immediate mood booster. Watching the seedlings grow is just delicious anticipation. Even the smallest balcony can fit in a tomato plant or two. If you don't want to mess with seeds, just buy a seedling from the garden center. They'll be available now for you to take home and nurture.
2. Gather supplies for the coming garden season and make lists of jobs to tackle. On days with a few bleak rays of sunshine, go out and snip a few branches or rake some leaves. If you live in a flat, get last year's pots and flower boxes cleaned and in place and lug in all the dirt you'll need for your spring and summer containers. That way, when Spring does hit, you'll be ready to go. Buy a cheery garden magazine to get new ideas for flower combinations and how to make the most of the space you've got. A small balcony can house a lovely theme garden with herbs and/or a couple of pots of leaf lettuce interplanted with a marigold plant or two. Many specialty garden magazines have ideas to spark the imagination. Designing a flower bed or a balcony area can make a dismal Sunday afternoon fly by.

2. Closet cleaning. Time to dump those clothes you can't fit into or don't want to. Get ready for spring wardrobe additions by making room. Decluttering drawers, cabinets, dressers and pantries is also a good way to hurry Spring along. Make a family project of cleaning the basement or the garage. There might be treasures! At least a few good laughs from finding and proudly wearing Dad's sombrero or Mom's stupid garden hat.
3. Stock up the bird feeders. The birds know Spring is on the way. They're busy building nests and cultivating relationships. Give them a nice grease ball (some homemade recipes are here) or a plate with some sunflower seeds, and they'll stop by often and cheer up even the most dreary day. We've had visits from an outrageously-yellow finch the past few days.
4. Plan a few outings to those places you want to visit during nice weather. For me, it's always research for a book or story idea (like here or here), but it can be to a local botanical garden, the zoo, an outdoor museum or an interesting town or village you've been meaning to visit. Getting all the details organized in advance means as soon as the weather allows, you can be spontaneous - just hop in the car and go.
 5. Get your outdoors sport equipment in good shape now: change those bicycle tires, get new pads for your Nordic walking poles, retire the worn-out running shoes for a new pair. Locate all of your clothing and have it ready. Then, when the good weather arrives, you won't spend the first few weekends with good weather retrofitting.


photo credit: gr8dnes via photopin cc