Spring has blossomed here in our beautiful area and soon the delicious crops of peaches, cherries, nectarines and plums, to name a few of my favorites, will be ripe.

The trees are covered with elegant flowers that look like a snowstorm has kissed the limbs with dollops of white.

This time of year has always reminded me of new beginnings and hope as the foliage comes alive and our neighborhoods bustle with outdoor activities again.

This year has had a whole new meaning which is far more special.

When I lived back east, the seasonal changes were much more definitive and by April, we surrendered our winter coats to the storage closet and began to wear less cumbersome attire.

How lucky we are to be in an area which is mild and yet still offers some seasonal changes to break up the monotony. I have never regretted moving here.

With many people vaccinated and most taking suggested precautions, it is liberating to be able to enjoy many pleasures again.

Yesterday I had to run an errand for a friend in our community. Instead of taking the car, I hopped into the golf cart, which we never use for golf since I am a golfing disaster, and rode away like the Lone Ranger on Silver. There was nobody around so I took off my mask and let the wind blow on my naked face. I giggled with glee at the freedom.

Grandpa and I have been quite diligent about staying in as much as possible this past year. Both of us are still very careful, especially around others who have not yet been vaccinated, so I felt like a bird in flight for the first time.

We visited with family, and I held onto my grandchildren from San Ramon so tightly and for so long that I thought I would snap them in two.

Luckily, they are old enough to withstand the pressure of the squeezes that Grandma puts on them. It felt really, really good.

My calendar from 2020 was filled with blank pages and an occasional reminder to take a monthly medication or call someone on their birthday. The pages for 2021 are beginning to look more like my usual scribbles recording lunch or dinner dates and appointments, which had all been postponed due to COVID-19. Even a recent dentist visit was most pleasant!

I am certainly aware that this pandemic is far from over and that everyone has their own ideas about a vaccination process. So I urge people to continue to follow safety protocols and not waste their year inside.

We will never get those twelve months back, but I for one do not wish to repeat them. I respect the right to choose. For the safety of those who are not comfortable with getting their shots yet, I wear my mask to keep them safe, without judgement.

As things open up more and more, I have timidly come out to play. We walked around Walnut Creek yesterday and I marveled at the streets which were once again filled with laughter and human contact.

Everyone that I saw wore a mask for the benefit of others, but the smiles in their eyes let me know that they too were thrilled that spring had sprung and life was starting to look a tiny bit more normal.

Every spring my dad would recite his silly but sweet poem to mark the beginning of the season. It went: “Spring has sprung, the bird is on the wing.”

But that is absurd, as the wing is on the bird. I miss him and his little poem.

Please continue to be safe and aware of people around you.

Hug your grandchildren as hard and long as you can, but wear a mask to make it a little safer. I am not alone in praying that last year will be a once-in-a-lifetime year to remember and one to learn from.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at marla2054@aol.com.