The spring equinox falls on Wednesday — at 2:58 p.m. Pacific, to be exact. The astronomical milestone traditionally marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is the season of going outside, as festivals and outdoor concerts begin again. Soon, it will be time for the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market and Music in the Park. Restaurant patios are already filling up with diners enjoying the sunny weather.
But those are just a few of the ways to enjoy the warmer weather — and it’s not just fun and games. It’s time for a few key chores, too.
Here are 10 ways to welcome spring:
1. Plan a picnic
Dust off your picnic basket — or buy one, if needed — and get ready for a picnic in one of Lodi’s parks. Traditional picnic foods include sandwiches, fried chicken, potato or pasta salad, cheese and crackers, and fresh fruit. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for invention. From gourmet sandwiches to skewers to desserts, there are hundreds of recipes online for picnic-worthy entrees and snacks.
Don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen? Stop by Cheese Central, Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe or another local gourmet food shop for sandwiches, snacks and other treats. You can also buy a pre-made picnic bag at Heritage Oak Winery, and several other local wineries sell picnic-ready snacks in their tasting rooms for visitors who want to enjoy their grounds. Michael David Winery has a cafe and fruit stand, as well.
Be sure to pack a few essentials like a blanket, bottled water and a camp chair or two in your trunk — not just for this picnic, but for any spontaneous park visits you may take throughout the season.
2. Start a new hobby
This is more traditionally a New Year’s resolution, but not all hobbies are winter-friendly. If you’ve always wanted to try kayaking, rock-climbing, birding, fly fishing or geocaching, now is a great time to start. The days ahead will be mostly sunny (with a day of rain here and there, including, ironically, Wednesday), but not too hot yet with temperatures in the mid-60s to low 70s. Take a class with Headwaters Kayak or join one of David Yee’s bird walks at Heritage Oak Winery.
More of a sharpshooter? There are several gun clubs near Lodi, including the Stockton Trap & Skeet Club and the Vintage Military Rifle Club in Sacramento County. Or head out to Lockeford, where the staff of Lodi Archery can help you choose a bow and teach you how to use it.
3. Just get outdoors
The weather is perfect for walking or cycling around Lodi. Lodi is a beautiful city to walk in this time of year (though you may want to grab a medical mask or take an anti-histamine first if you suffer from seasonal allergies). Everything is beginning to bloom, and the city isn’t so sprawling that you can’t walk somewhere interesting within a couple of miles.
If you’d rather travel on wheels, Visit Lodi! has a collection of bike routes for cyclists looking for a new experience, ranging from 5 to more than 50 miles. Download them via the RideWithGPS app on your smartphone, or visit www.visitlodi.com and look under “Things to Do” for details.
More adventurous types can try going for a hike at Cosumnes River Preserve, Rancho Seco Recreational Area or along the American River in Sacramento. There are dozens of great hikes for all endurance and skill levels within a couple hours east and west of Lodi, too.
4. Join a sports team
It doesn’t have to be a softball team with your co-workers, either. Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services hosts a number of sports teams for adults, and the spring league will be starting up in early April. Head over to apm.activecommunities.com/lodipandrhss to see what’s available and register.
5. Fly a kite
Flying a kite is almost meditative. You run a little until it catches the air, send it soaring up high, and then — hopefully — relax and enjoy the experience. Listen to nature. Look around a little. Breathe. And keep that kite aloft, 300 feet up.
You can buy one. There are several options online, or you can head up to Old City Kites in Old Sacramento. Or you can make one, with one of the several designs available online. What better way to fill the one or two rainy days we have left this spring?
6. Plant your garden
If you prepped your beds a couple of weeks ago, now is the time to visit Hollandutch Nursery, Delta Tree Farms and other local gardening centers to plan out your garden.
Once you know what you’re going to grow, head over to the Lodi Public Library to find out when the Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers will be holding workshops. The groups co-host a number of workshops throughout the year geared toward helping gardeners of all levels successfully grow delicious fruits and vegetables, and preserve them to be enjoyed throughout the year.
If those classes don’t fit your schedule, you can send questions to Fred Hoffman c/o the News-Sentinel, P.O. Box 1360, Lodi, CA 95241; or via email to email@example.com. Look in our Real Estate section on Saturdays for his column.
7. Switch out your closet
It’s time to start packing away your winter wardrobe and airing out clothes for spring and summer. Californians don’t have as much of a wardrobe change as people in colder climates, but it will soon be warm enough to pack up the sweaters, flannel shirts and thick socks for another year.
It’s also a good time to see what no longer fits, and donate anything that’s in good repair. Lodi House, Goodwill and the Salvation Army Thrift Store all welcome donations of clothing that still is in good shape.
8. Get spring cleaning
It’s a lot less fun than a picnic, but there’s nothing like a clean home. Thorough cleaning is a tradition in many cultures, usually in the late winter or spring. Now is the time to wash your windows, then open them up and air out your home. Then it’s time to clean the baseboards, check your air filters and smoke detector batteries, wipe down walls, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, clean out your fridge, and tackle all those other cleaning tasks you ignore for most of the year.
9. Clean the grill
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Long, warm evenings are not far away, so make sure that grill is in good working order.
After going for a hike, vacuuming the blinds and planting your eggplant and peppers, you deserve a long, relaxing bath with your favorite YouTube spa music channel playing.
Winter air can dry your skin, and a lot of people stop using sunscreen during the dark, rainy months. As the weather warms, exfoliate, switch to a less heavy moisurizer and be sure to apply that SPF 50.
Get that spring haircut. Get a massage. Buy a milkshake. Spend half an hour just sitting outside and soaking up the sun (with sunscreen!). Do something just for you, to celebrate the end of winter.
And enjoy your spring!