The Best Part of Spring? It’s Almost Summer!

I’ve been struggling with a case of seasonal blurring lately. A few months ago, the clear lines separating winter and spring began to run together. Weeks of sunshine were littered with days of spontaneous snowstorms that dwindled in frequency until there was nothing left but warmth and wildflowers. It’s easy to distinguish between winter and spring – but where do we draw the lines between spring and summer?

According to the calendar, summer doesn’t start until June 21st this year, but I don’t necessarily agree with that deadline. In my world, a transition period exists between the two defined seasons – and it’s the best part of the entire year. The weekends are full of cookout invitations and outdoor adventures; I got my first sunburn at the Five Points Jazz festival; rooftop patios are the place to be; and farmers markets are coming into season. It’s warm enough to spend a day sunning on a blanket at a park, but not hot to the point where you can’t stop thinking about air conditioning. It’s just perfect.

Need further convincing? Here’s why is the best time of the year:

Everything is in bloom.

Up in the mountains, the wildflower blooms won’t be in full force until much later in the summer – but down here in the city, blossoms are pushing up from from every garden patch and crack in the sidewalk to bask in the sun. I never knew so many varieties of tulips existed until I took a stroll to my neighborhood coffee shop last week. Bulbs planted long ago have sprung to life, and every sunny morning beckons neighbors to roll up their sleeves and dig into a little urban gardening. I even have my first tomato growing on my little patio plants!The blossoms at Denver Botanic Gardens My sister and I at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Afternoon rain – ’nuff said.

As a southern gal, there is nothing I love more than a good afternoon storm. In Florida, they come like clockwork during the warm seasons. A cloud appears, thunder rolls, lightning strikes, and rain pounds like the pavement – and then an hour later, the sun is shining again. It’s one of the things I miss the most about the south, but Denver has been delivering all sorts of stormy satisfaction lately.

I mean, I could have done without the tornado sirens and quarter-sized hail – but beggars can’t be choosers. (No, seriously, I was taking a very long, relaxing shower last week when my housemate started pounding on my door saying “Uh, I think we need to GO” – trying to plan out your this-is-the-end strategy while running around in a towel is not very relaxing y’all.) Bring it on, Colorado! Puddles. I like stepping in 'em.

Cookouts and Farmers Markets

Here’s a little secret: there is nothing I love on this planet more than food. If my physical being reflected my inner foodie, I would triple in weight immediately – and probably get diabetes. I adore eating, cooking, growing vegetables, and buying fresh produce. As spring collides with summer, the season for outdoor cookouts, spending weekend mornings at farmers markets, and eating lunch out on the stoop is officially upon us.

Food is one of my favorite elements of city adventures. You can tailor an entire day around edible explorations. My favorite food-centric weekend adventure goes a little something like this: wake up, cook a homemade breakfast with all the windows open, stock up on veggies at the local farmers market, invite a herd of cohorts over, spend the afternoon grilling in the backyard. Wham-bam, baby.It's officially the season for backyard barbecues.

Everything is Outside

No, really – everything. This perfectly in-between season is the best time of the year to do everything outside. I don’t work in an office, and turning your kitchen into a cubicle every morning gets pretty monotonous – so when the weather strikes that delicate balance between breezy and warm with sunshine, I like to move my office outdoors.

I am actually sitting outside on my third-story stoop right now – I’ve been doing this for weeks. My yellow snapdragons are exploding with petals, Sylvan Esso and songbirds are making music, and my creative energy is way more inspired than when I was sitting inside. Why would anyone work inside when they could do this instead?

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Work isn’t the only typically indoor activity you can move outside on sunny days – everything from dinner and boardgames to afternoon naps are better enjoyed out in the fresh air. The key is to make your outdoor space functional, comfortable and inviting. I recently transformed the small, cluttered stoop on my third-story house into a wonderful little nook, and now I am constantly outside. (I’ll be posting a how-to later this week!)

If you aren’t outside at least once a day to soak up this mid-season glory, you’re seriously missing out. Take it outside! It won’t be long until summer settles in, and just the idea of being outside all day makes you start sweating. Take advantage of every opportunity to put a little dash of the outdoors into your day.

* This post is part of my annual series celebrating nature with Nature Valley. Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.  

Embracing Everything Spring (and all the in-between)

This morning, I spotted my first potato beetle of the season. He was perched on the wooden railing on the porch of my new house in Denver – and even thought he didn’t make any sounds, his existence in that moment was screaming “SPRING!

The official start of everyone’s beloved post-winter season was officially on March 20th, but this entire month has been a spring reckoning for me. I experienced the signs of spring in places from my backyard in Miami to the trails of my favorite greenway system in Denver.

My first glimpse of spring was in Tallahassee. I woke up one morning, looked out my bedroom window – and there they were: branches and twigs crowded with fuscia blossoms. It was still cold enough outside to warrant sleeping with socks on, but the sight of blooming Japanese magnolias offered hope. Always the first flowers to boldly declare the promise of warmer weather, their purple petals made the final few weeks of living in Tallahassee a little brighter. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMornings in Tallahassee were pure perfection.
When I retreated south to Miami, the signs of spring were less obvious. Winter is nothing more than a few weeks of evening sweater weather so far south, but even the warmest part of Florida managed to deliver the kind of natural bliss that makes this year the most sanguine season. While the earth was already full of green, I spotted the kind of delicate growth that only the touch of spring can bring – dotted along the massive sea grape in my backyard were freshly hatched orchids, capitalizing on the perfect combination of sunshine, rain, and warmth.

Spring is everywhere, if you know where to look.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Here in Colorado, spring has a more erratic yet defined feel. One day, the ground is blanketed with late-season snow – and then the next, I’m wearing a tank top while hiking on perfectly dry trails. There’s something gratifying about the pronounced transition from cold to warm. I have absolutely no control or effect over the weather, yet it feels like I’ve somehow earned these days of sunshine after an afternoon of snow flurries.
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This spring has been a season of changes in my life that reach far beyond watching grass go from dry wintry straw to lively green growth. There is so much adjustment to adapt to as I settle into my new home, so many personal revelations to embrace, and a whole new world to explore. All of this change is putting me in the best place I’ve ever been in my life – and this is exactly the season to be experiencing it all in. Cheers to spring!

What does spring look like in YOUR neck of the woods?
Do you have any tell-tale signs of spring you wait all winter for?

*Note: This post is sponsored by Nature Valley. For more outdoor inspiration, check out their fantastic Nature Project Tumblr.

It’s official – I AM WEARING SHORTS TODAY. Get outside, folks!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to spring. I may be jumping the gun by a few weeks, but it’s hitting 70 today – so the shorts are on. This is the first time since October that my twiggy legs have felt the freedom of bare sunshine.

If you’re inside right now, you need to peel yourself away from the interwebs, put on some shorts, and get yourself outside! My housemate and I are headin’ out after class to soak up some sunshine – we’re on a mission to regain our pre-winter skin hues.

Also, let’s try to ignore how ridiculous I look in that photo. I just needed to capture the moment, people. Come join me out at the Rez for some warm sandy playtime. Climbing later is always in the cards.