30 Things that Make Me Happy

30 Things that Make Me Happy

Because we need happy things right now more than ever… so – coming to all of us in the northern hemisphere – here are some sure signs of spring!

Author’s Note: I wrote this post about mid-March – but the world seemed to be spiraling into chaos, and it seemed a bit insensitive for me to post it when so many people were literally fighting for their lives. But as time has gone on, I have come to realize that perhaps this is a good thing to post after all. During the darkest times of my life, what has brought me most solace is stepping outside. Not everyone, however, is able to go climb a mountain, walk down to the river, or kayak on a slack tide (not even me at the moment). So for now – from my backyard to yours – 30 signs of spring, the season of hope and promise! May we all have hope for brighter days ahead!

Spring! One of our most beautiful seasons! (The others being summer, autumn, and winter.) At 48 degrees North, the days quickly become longer than the nights, and everything in the natural world seems to stand up and take notice. Hooray for sunshine and light!

Daffodils are definitely signs of spring!

Daffodils and then tulips! I can’t think of more cheery flowers. Of all my “useful plants,” I grow daffodils and tulips for the sheer joy of them. 

Squirrel hanging from feeder

The squirrel at our birdfeeder and her antics. Silly squirrel. (Bad photo, I know – taken through a window with my phone. Still, she made me laugh.)

ANTS! Alive and well, these tenacious creatures made it through the winter and are out in incredible numbers when the sun shines on the hill. It’s amazing just to watch them. The ground seems to rumble and move. 
Little green frogs: sure signs of spring

First little green frog spotted in the willows! Yay! And now we can listen to a chorus of them sing at twilight.

Slithering Garter Snake

Seeing my first garter snake of the season – and on the first day of spring! Yay! We don’t have any venomous snakes that can hurt humans where we live. Garter snakes help me with slug and insect control in the garden and they are my friends. I create little rockpiles for them where they can hang out and be warm. Welcome back, snakes!

Cleaning things up.
It feels so good to pull a few weeds (which come out so much easier at this time of year), knowing that what I do now will save so much time later. A little pruning here or there. Cleaning up in the garden is a simple thing, really, but when so many things are out of our control, it feels good to see something we have actually accomplished.

Star Magnolia Catkins - sure signs of spring

Springtime catkins in the star magnolia tree, so very soft! And catkins in the willows, providing early pollen for the bees. And now, a couple of weeks later, the star magnolia in full bloom. It almost glows in the dark! And to all the birds and bees who love them: I just want you to know, watching you makes me happy.

Mulching! Laying down some wood chips, leaves, or compost around shrubs, trees, and in the pathways, even when you know it’s not enough to completely stop the invasives, instantly makes an area look better. Stand back and admire!

Dandelion yellow

First Dandelions! And a whole series of firsts: forsythia, Nanking cherries, buds budding everywhere! Tiny delicate leaves of lime green. Every week seems to bring a new flush of flowers: cascading phlox, tiny forget-me-nots, wall flowers,

Cascade Red Currant Flowers

…. and the inconspicuous buds on currants.

Instant cheer wherever you look! Cherries, plums, and now apples. The ground is becoming covered with petals, and when the wind blows, it snows flowers. Nice!

Spring greens! I feel so fortunate to have so many things available already: mustard, French sorrel, wood sorrel, kale & collards, sea kale, Good King Henry, lovage, dandelions, violets, brassica raab, chives, garlic chives, garlic shoots, spring onions, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, celery herb, chickweed, plantain, and of course, powerhouse nettles! Another good reason to grow perennials: they are up and ready before anything else. So many things to eat! I feel stronger already!

Speaking of nettles: such a huge crop this year! Picking them with gloves and dehydrating them for mineral-rich broths and teas makes me happy and keeps our family strong.

A Bed of Violets: definitely signs of spring

A bed full of violets. Who cannot love this? Seriously.

And the spring inspiration that goes with them: Violet Syrup, Violet Springtime Fairy Vinegar, Candied Violets, Wild Violet Sugar Valentines, violet liqueurs, violet leaves and flowers in salads…. Oh! So Fancy!

* * *

Local food! A BIG Thank you to the folks at Nash’s, Dungeness Valley Creamery, and all the local farms working hard to ensure we have a local source of nutrient-dense food! These people understand the importance of good soil and healthy, happy animals. SO important to know where our food comes from! So important to keeping us healthy in these uncertain times. Wherever you are, thank your local farmer!

* * *

Speaking of gardens – we are definitely growing one this year, and right now, it is a balmy 80 degrees in the greenhouse! Ahhhh….  love this warmth. Things are waking up and sprouting leaves. I am in the process of acclimating and moving out overwintered shrubs to make room for the heat lovers. Some tomatoes will be grown in the new central bed we built; others will grow outside. We have over 50 varieties of herbs and vegetables in pots to get a jump start on the season.  This is the time of year when the greenhouse really proves its worth.

Hanging flower basket in greenhouse

Flowers in the greenhouse: wasabi, ceanothus, rosemary – oh my! These have been blooming since March, along with a basket of Calibrachoa (something like a small petunia) that was in a Mother’s Day hanging basket our son gave me last year. It is amazing how quickly the time goes by in this warm little hideaway. Sometimes I bring a cup of tea and a book and just hang out awhile with my friends. 

Sweet ladybug! - more signs of spring!

A Ladybug in the greenhouse, already hard at work chasing down aphids! Thank you, Ladybug! When I look closely, I see there is actually a lot going on in here. Quite a few ants, too. Hmm. And a few wasps. Uh oh. Let’s see how they work it out.

The return of the goldfinch! Such a gorgeous bright yellow bird with undulating flight. And let’s not forget the barn swallows, who, true to name, are building nests as I speak in the eaves of the barn overhang. They make a lot of noise – soon to be joined by the chorus of young ones!

Bumblebees in the Mahonia! They are SO loud!!! I seemed to have forgotten how they are the insect version of a low-flying helicopter!

Red Flowering Currant Shrub - bee and hummingbird paradise
WHOAAA! It gets bigger every year! What a bee and hummingbird magnet! This used to be one of Barkley’s favorite places to hang out.
Red Flowering Currant: magnet for bees and hummingbirds!

Red-flowering currants are exploding with color! Mid-March and they were officially open; mid-April and the shrub is dense – and I mean Really Dense with blooms.  Yay! This, to me, is one of the brilliant highlights of spring!  Which brings us to…

Happy Hummingbirds Humming.  How could they not around all these magenta blossoms! And speaking of…

Bird activity! There is excitement in the air! Sometimes literally! Even Eagles! They are so vocal about it! Which brings us to…

The nearby but forever-wary feral cat, who survived the winter, coyotes, and eagles, and is alive and well… and appreciative of my handouts (every meal saves a bird, I figure).

And also …. The neighbor’s chickens. We don’t have chickens of our own, but I like listening to them. You can tell they are enjoying a sunny afternoon. Also, the neighborhood peacock has returned! Now there is a call we haven’t heard every morning for awhile! He is such a curious bird and sometimes wanders in our backyard.

Pea sprouts are always signs of spring!

Planting peas. This is definitely a spring thing. Something so basic, an act so full of optimism. As we push them into the damp soil, we can almost taste them. And planting seeds in general – or even just planning on what to plant – is an act of empowerment and hope. Plant some for you and plant some more to share. Always.

Getting outside – in general – Just feeling the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I don’t even have to go off the porch. A cup of coffee and a good book are good companions. I feel blessed.

A clean rain. Sunshine is wonderful, but so is a cleaning, nourishing rain. Everything seems to wake up and glisten with fresh spirit. I love spring.

Getting my hands in the dirt. FINALLY! 

Barefoot in the garden

AND my bare feet! It is still cold! (We are not out of the frost zone yet.)
Scientists are coming out with studies that now prove “grounding” is good for you.
HaHa! The rest of us always knew that.

Periwinkle flower - love the color!

Stay Safe Everyone! Be sure to get out and feel the love of the Earth!

Thank you for joining me –

Blythe

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Leslie Huttunen

    Lovely!!

    1. Blythe

      Thank you, Les. I am glad you liked.

  2. Patricia DeMarco

    What an uplifting post, Blythe! Thank you for putting your spin on the wondrous beauty of the spring season.

    1. Blythe

      Thank you, Patricia. I admire your writing and photography, so it means a lot coming from you. Hope you are getting a chance to get out and forage about.

  3. Mark Eisenstadt

    As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says, we are surrounded by wonders and we are wonders ourselves. Clearly, Blythe, you have seen this for yourself and you are sharing it with this lovely and uplifting post. Well done! The dormouse surely has reason to smile as he dreams of his geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

    1. Blythe

      Thank you, Mark. Your comment made me smile. I do tend to lose track of time in the garden. There is indeed beauty and wonder everywhere you look (but I have to say, no chrysanthemums.)

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