Spring is in the air and not a moment too soon if you ask me. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I have had it! This whole pandemic was bad enough last year, but then winter hit and it really all went to hell in a handbasket.

It wasn’t just the cold, per se, which I really don’t like anyway, but the confinement that came with it as we doubled down on the anti-socializing.

Take my French immersion group, for example; seven of us had been gathering monthly at one house or another over breakfast pastry followed by lunch as we all (pretty much) spoke French. Then came the lockdown. At one point later in the summer it occurred to me that if properly distanced, we could still meet, only outside, in my backyard. I ran the cord for the coffee pot out the back window and set it up on a card table, people brought their own bag lunches and folding chairs, and voila! We gathered, both here and at my friend Al’s house until it got too cold, even as we bundled up in winter jackets and hats. We hung in there until mid-November, and then nothing until we went to Zoom not long ago.

Same thing with eating outdoors with family members at drive-in restaurants and regular eateries with tables set up under umbrellas in what had been pre-pandemic parking lots. Nice, but not sustainable once the full force of New England winter moved in. Then it was back to being alone again except for maybe one or two people deemed safe enough to be in my “bubble.” And so it went right through the holidays and the whole winter season.

And then a few days ago, as I walked out to the mailbox one morning, I could smell spring in the air! No fooling!

A quick check of the perennial bed on the front lawn showed a whole big patch of green shoots poking up where the daffodils live, perky bright green hyacinth leaves peeking through the winter mulch just around the corner from there, as well as what suspiciously ... and I may be wrong ... look like tiny parsley leaves, pale but still green, gathering around the foot of the birdbath in the herb garden. Not to wax too poetic, but my heart began to sing.

As I sat here writing today, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, birds were flying past my window, and although the March winds were setting the wind chimes to tinkling, I knew that when I set foot out the front door later this morning it will feel more like spring than winter. It was at that moment that I knew it was time to mentally reboot, and I consciously shifted gears from down-in-the-dumps winter mode to spring-in-my-step-better-days-are-coming-and-life-is-worth-living-again mode. Full reboot.

Mentally, I am already planning what to plant in the bare spots along the front foundation now that the siding and gutter work has been completed, what to transplant, what to buy new, and what to eliminate to make way for the new driveway planned for this year.

My daughters and I had already been talking about looking ahead now that COVID-19 vaccines have become a reality and we can perhaps cautiously begin planning fun times again, so we have begun penciling things into our agendas.

Last June’s big vacation to Normandy, already booked and paid for when everything shut down mere weeks before our planned takeoff, was such a disappointment. And even yet, although hope is in the air, any kind of travel is still in doubt, so we are thinking along simpler, closer to home lines. Like maybe an open-air pig roast for the family in July when universal vaccination may have become a reality.

But what I’m really excited about in the here and now is that I will be able to feel the warmth of the sun on my back, and longer daylight hours starting this coming Sunday, March 14. Since I no longer drive after dark, being able to stay out again past a 4 p.m. deadline like an adult and still be able to drive myself home is a really big deal for me.

I am looking forward to seeing my French group friends face-to-face again instead of on Zoom, going out in search of fried clams again ... maybe at the old-fashioned drive-in restaurant in Mendon, Mass., ... with my friend Jeanne, seeing my children and grandchildren again if only out-of-doors, and so many other things that have been put on hold for so many months now.

I have mentally shifted gears, rebooted my mental computer, and am ready, although still double-masked, to enjoy life on a whole new plane.

Addendum: I don’t know what the swallows are doing in Capistrano, but I just checked and George’s Surf and Turf Drive-in Restaurant in Mendon has just opened for the season! Spring is here, and I will be sitting in my car eating fried clams within the hour.

Life is good!

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

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