15 ideas to welcome spring back into life


Barbara Ballinger and Margaret Crane, Special To The Jewish Light

Spring is renewal, rebirth, a reboot. It offers a change in scenery and a lift to our spirits. The idea that we can look forward to seeing multi-colored flowers bloom in public spaces, at favorite nurseries and in our own yards, and watch the bright kelly green grass come up, gives us hope. A new season is emerging after the dark, cold days of winter.

Nature’s picture of rebirth is perhaps a metaphor for what we need to happen in the world right now. Spring’s  burst of color–more blues, greens, yellows, reds and purples–is a blessing that perhaps good fortune is on the horizon after watching the heartache in the news. Will we emerge from darkness into brightness and safety this season and beyond?

We feel it’s the right time to toast the seasonal changes with glee. It may also be the perfect time to try some re-dos in our own lives and surroundings.

Here’s our list of 15 ideas that we suggest will help put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. That’s a very good new beginning, don’t you think?

  1. Watch nature return. Barbara looks carefully for her garden’s first plants to poke up their heads as small green shoots. When she first planted her garden 12 years ago, landscape gardener Michael Glassman taught her, “The first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap.” And they have! Each fall, she adds more bulbs. Walk in your hood and see what’s coming up in neighbors’ yards. If you don’t have a garden, treat yourself to a bouquet of daffodils or tulips–early spring members-or a plant or two. Margaret started early in winter, buying a rubber plant when she realized she had nothing living in her apartment except herself. It’s grown nicely over the last year.
  2. Visit a botanic garden. St. Louis has one of the best in the country. There are thousands throughout the country. Our online list cites 11 favorites at https://archive.curbed.com/2017/6/9/15764274/botanical-gardens-best-united-states>. Note the variety of outdoor and indoor in conservatory examples, as well as what blooms in each. For those still timid about being around others, browsing at flowers and plants outside offers a safe way to socialize.
  3. Head to a nursery or even big-box store with a garden center. Barbara’s favorite nursery has started to post what it’s growing from seedlings. She goes there long before she plans to plant anything just to get ideas in its greenhouses and walk in the fresh air. This also gives her an idea which will work in her zone and soil.
  4. Cook a springtime meal. Yes, you can get most foods year-round, but you often pay extra in winter for tender green beans and asparagus, ripe strawberries, and various herbs. You can plant and grow your own garden to table veggies, herbs and spices. Margaret joined a rooftop garden club to grow herbs, spices and veggies that she can take home and enjoy.Celebrate the season with a meal that reflects what’s available locally in your market that’s not usually sold. And if you don’t eat meat, why not make some crab- or salmon burgers or a fresh lobster and pretend you’re in Maine or the Maryland shore. Also, it’s time to think about making more salads, mixing together many colorful ingredients. And if weather permits, how about cleaning your grill and barbecuing some fresh fish. Taking out some new cookbooks or reading food blogs can offer inspiration.
  5. Clean out those musty closets. Spring cleaning is a ritual for many, along with switching out clothing in closets and getting quilts, pillows, area rugs and bedspreads cleaned. And while you’re at it, don’t plan to put back anything you haven’t worn in two or three years. Donate items to a worthy cause for those who need it most. Also, while you’re at it, consider switching out hangers, too, so they all match. We love those thin black ones that line up neatly.
  6. Rearrange your furnishings for some change. This may mean rehanging some art, regrouping a furniture arrangement for better conversation, getting rid of a rug you’ve had forever and showing off your handsome wood floors, or do the same outdoors if you have a sitting area. Taking down curtains permanently will let in more sunlight and views and is so much more in style. Barbara always spruces up her dollhouses with something new. This year it was a telescope, and she still plans to add some more pots of hydrangeas and sunflowers!
  7. Paint a door or room a springy hue. Add pops of color. We love those red and navy front doors. Or if you don’t have a front door how about painting a room. Too much effort? Add some more color or punch to a room with colorful pillows or appliances in the kitchen or placemats in the dining room.
  8. Plan an outing. We’ve all been cooped up so long, especially during the height of the pandemic where we feared going anywhere. You don’t have to hop on a plane now, but you may want to. Even with the higher cost of gasoline, consider going on a trip for a few days nearby or even a day outing. Or take a hike to a campground where you can enjoy nature and perhaps go fishing or boating. Barbara plans to return to see Philip Johnson’s iconic glass house, part of a cluster of buildings he designed in Connecticut. https://theglasshouse.org/ Even an outing in your neighborhood for a worthy cause can add a lift; Barbara went to a benefit in a tent for her local business community and Ukraine.
  9. Buy a new piece of clothing, a spring purse or a new lipstick. You don’t have to make a big purchase, but how about the bright lime casual shoes you spied online that are very affordable and cute or a new spring-time lipstick in coral or pink instead of the dark red you’ve been using. It will show up more now that we’re removing masks, too.
  10. Switch out your wines. If you’ve been sipping mostly heavier Cabs, Burgundies and other red wines, you might like a lighter Rose (even a sparkling one for sizzle), Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot.
  11. Try a new activity. Spring is all about new beginnings, consider a new activity. Many offerings during the spring and summer are free from concerts to outdoor art fairs. Tutor a new crop of students or read to some elderly folks with macular degeneration. Attend a painting class;  many offer beginners’ classes. Go for a new type of yoga; they’re not all the same. Buy a jump rope and start moving. Getting up your cardio rate will really make you feel alive. Go to a play or ballet now that they’re back and if you’re lucky hear or see something you’ve never seen before. Maybe. try fly fishing or kayaking.
  12. Celebrate holidays with more gusto! Spring brings some wonderful holidays–St. Patrick’s Day, Purim, Passover and Easter. Even if you don’t celebrate, maybe you know someone who does. Send a card, dye some eggs, bake some hamantaschen (Barbara prefers poppy seed and Margaret enjoy apricot in case you’re wondering). You don’t have to be Jewish. And you can eat those mushy Easter Peeps and chocolate bunnies, whatever religion you are—or aren’t not just around Easter but anytime you can find them in a favorite candy store.
  13. Make a new friend. Friendship is in the news, probably because we’ve been so eager for connections. As Zoom gatherings wane, step out and make a friend. It doesn’t have to become your bestie but can be someone to walk with, say “hello” to each morning, or visit with before or after the exercise class you both take.
  14. Take a spring staycation. Margaret plans to use the beginning of wonderful weather to explore the boroughs of New York City that she hasn’t been able to enjoy because of the pandemic. Do the research. Plan for the day with a list of where you want to go–eat, sightsee, try. Set a budget and go for it. Nothing is healthier than walking and enjoying your surroundings. Also, you can just bask in a change of scenery, and it’s cost free.
  15. Visit your local zoo to see the baby animals. This is all about new birth from giraffes, Komodo dragons and big/little cats. The Bronx Zoo, which is the closest to where Margaret and Barbara now live, is the largest metropolitan zoo in the country. Visiting there would also be an opportunity for Margaret to see this area as part of a day trip to the Bronx.

Welcome sweet springtime. You are cordially invited into our lives since you offer much needed happiness and hope.