No, I'm not behind (or ahead) on my columns quite that much.

But really, doesn't it feel like a brand-new year right now?

No, I'm not behind (or ahead) on my columns quite that much.

But really, doesn't it feel like a brand-new year right now?

Spring finally came. You've probably been out in your yard, doing some raking. Maybe spreading some fresh mulch. Planting early things like lettuce. Thinking a little bit about all the grand outdoor plans you have.

You see more kids out riding their bikes in the first early spring days than you'll ever see in the heat of July. Nobody can stay inside.

I've been getting back to my beloved biking and I see people outside doing all kinds of outdoor stuff; some of it fun and some of it work. But even yard work doesn't feel like work right now.

It was a joy to plant lettuce blends and calendula last week. It was gratifying to remove my cold frames and find that my parsley was as fresh and green and perfect as it was when I planted it last spring.

The strawberries look terrific, too. I hope to get more than a handful of berries this year. I'm counting on harvesting enough strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and currants to make the time, money and work I've lavished on these things worth it for once.

My indoor garden can move outside. The lime, banana and avocado trees will soon move to the deck. I can stop growing green onions in water glasses on the window sill.

Most of my yard is too shady for vegetable gardening, so I tried growing tomatoes in containers last year. It wasn't very successful due to my chosen spot not being quite sunny enough. So this year I chose to situate the tomato pots more for sunshine and less for aesthetics. If I actually get more than a few tomatoes this year, it'll be worth having them somewhat in the way.

This time of year everything seems to be full of promise. Yucky-looking lawns turn emerald. Colorful tulips and daffodils are pushing their way up. Trees are budding. It truly feels like a new year in a way that Jan. 1 can't match.

How could anybody not find this to be the best time of the year?

It's why I named my first-born daughter April. I loved the connotations. When I think of April (the month) I think of the end of grungy winter and the beginning of beautiful spring weather that makes everyone feel happy. I think of fresh green growth, soft warm breezes, pretty spring flowers and exhilarating walks in gorgeous weather.

I think of yellow Easter chicks, puppies and kittens, and soon, baby birds chirping away. New life is everywhere.

But instead of celebrating this New Year's with heavy appetizers, a few stiff drinks and a headache the next morning, this is the time of year when you feel like eating things like asparagus and snow peas and then getting up early the next morning to weed a garden bed or take a long bike ride.

This is the best of the year, so enjoy it.

And happy New Year.