Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love experiencing the unstoppable force of nature each year as things start to wake up and grow. Watching leaves develop on trees is one of my favorite sights. The leaves start small, appearing as reddish-brownish specks on the tips of the branches. Each passing day the specks grow bigger, changing from a bright yellow-green to a vibrant green within weeks. It’s awesome to watch.

Although spring is arriving with its usual energy, this year feels different. I suppose it’s because last year at this time we were locked in the house. For weeks and weeks. Last March, after the pandemic (and lockdown) started, my outdoor time was limited to my balcony. Luckily I had a view of some trees. And I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the increased birdsong. But it just wasn’t the same.

This year, however, feels like a fresh start. A chance to re-experience the wonders of spring that I missed witnessing first hand last year. Or rather, that I got to observe from a distance of a 12th-floor balcony. I know we’re still in the pandemic, but hopefully some things will soon be available for us to participate in again. When they are available, it feels like doing something for the first time, even though it’s something I’ve probably done dozens (or even hundreds!) of times before. Among my faves are the exhilarating feeling of running downhill or the satisfying crunch of dead leaves beneath my sneakers.

The other day I visited a field in a nearby park. Walking briskly, feeling the sun, the wind, and the slightly muddy terrain squishing beneath my sneakers was uplifting. Normally I would’ve been concerned about large chunks of mud sticking in the treads, but this time I enjoyed the sensation. I welcomed experiencing the mucky spring ground after missing out on it last year.

Too often, we live by our routines. Doing the same thing, the same way, every time, by rote. The pandemic is a huge pain. It’s been hard on everyone, in some way or another, but there have been some positives. Maybe it’s spring, but the long “pandemic” break from things has given me fresh eyes. I had forgotten the exhilarating feeling of simple pleasures, like watching the leaves grow on trees. Small activities I am now enjoying again after missing them last year.

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