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Some days are better than others.

For me, March 12 was a great example.

After a long day at work, I came home, put on my running shoes and went for a long walk. The sun was out and the temperature was in the mid-60. In a lot of ways the experience was unremarkable, but it was the little things that stood out.

Winters can be long and dark. Personally, this past winter brought with it way more than its fair share of darkness.

Constant companions of mine during that time were the greenways, trails and sidewalks of Black Mountain. As much solace as I find in my jaunts around town, the winter is also literally a dark time. There isn’t always enough time to squeeze in a few miles when the workday is through.

Yet as I looked around on the first Tuesday of Daylight Savings Time, even though it was after 5 p.m., it was nice and sunny. Another sign winter was losing its grip came in the form of a pop of yellow peeking out from behind a cluster of still-bare trees.

I like taking pictures of flowers, but I don’t know anything about them. A quick Google search, however, revealed it was a daffodil. I saw a few more as I continued on my way.

I rounded a corner and an impressive display of pink flowers appearing to cascade toward the ground came into view. What I believe is a weeping cherry tree was in the early stages of bloom.

I saw all kinds of squirrels out doing whatever squirrels do after winter is over. In the distance, I heard about a dozen young girls taking infield practice as they got ready for softball season. 

A few other colorful buds and blooms caught my eye and I was reminded that spring was right around of the corner. Of course, the first official day of spring is Wednesday, March 20, and it’s not a moment too soon.

The seasons are commonly used as a metaphor for life. The cold, unrelenting winter represents the end stages of life. The reference never really resonated with me until this past winter, now I can't stop contemplating it. 

That's probably a big reason I felt a little pep in my step when I realized spring is back. 

If winter is analogous with the end, then spring is all about new beginnings. And what brings more hope than new life?

As temperatures begin to get warmer and warmer and days get longer and longer, signs of spring will soon be found everywhere. 

Green leaves will return to trees, bushes and other foliage in the area, baby animals will start to venture out with their mothers and an array of colorful flowers will open up around the Swannanoa Valley. 

Pretty soon we'll be putting away our coats and hoodies and putting on shorts and t-shirts. 

After months of trapping the heat in our closed-up homes, sounds and smells will float from open windows on the evening breeze. Neighbors will be out for evening walks and trails will be filled with hikers seeking breath-taking views and memorable experiences.  

Downtown, which is quieter and sometimes empty in the winter months, will once again be abuzz with locals and visitors from all over the country. Outdoor patios will fill up with friendly faces while folks figure out what new adventure to plan for the next day. 

This is the time of year when we, just like the bears, begin to emerge from our winter dens. Unlike the bears, however, we don't make a mess out of each other's trash. 

I find that there is a direct link between my mood and how much time I've spent outdoors lately. Naturally, I can get a little grumpy when I'm stuck inside for a few months. 

So no matter what you may have been dealing with in the last days, weeks or months, I suggest you find some time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful place that we live. You might start to notice that you're having more good days than bad ones. 

I plan on spending as much time outside as possible, making the most of longer days, warmer weather and everything else the new season has to offer, so you might see me around. 

Most importantly though, I'm feeling hopeful. I'm ready to see what the rest of this year has to offer and experience things I have yet to do in these mountains. 

Winter is over and I'm anxious to put it behind me. 

Welcome back, spring. 

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