…this is the time of year when my mind wanders to (and my friends’ feeds remind me of) the almost-sudden, spectacular Seattle spring tailor-made for walks and rhododendrons.

Windows open, a good coffee pour, biplanes buzzing in the background, good friends on the way to spend the weekend with us – this morning, there is much to be thankful for; I’m reticent to “miss” anything. Still, I do miss having four seasons, and this is the time of year when my mind wanders to (and my friends’ feeds remind me of) the almost-sudden, spectacular Seattle spring tailor-made for walks and rhododendrons.

These are the spring flowers of my Ozark childhood and the smell and sight of them reminds me of warm days and playing outside while my grandmother fed chickens and hung wash on the line. .

Since life planted us in Central Florida, we have to pay close attention to notice the changing seasons. The subtle differences in the green landscape of spring and summer and the greyish of fall and “winter” around the city are there, but to really notice, we head out into the fields and citrus groves. There, the smells tell the story; wet dirt for spring, sweet as the strawberries and citrus bloom, cut grass in the fall.

Florida orange grove plant in summer sun

Back west, the kids and I welcome spring and fall by driving through the Cascades, windows down, taking turns choosing songs. We end somewhere in the mountains drinking sweet tea and lemonade in the spring or coffee and hot chocolate in the fall. It’s one of the rituals we miss most since we moved away, and one we were never really able to replicate on the Gulf Coast (though to be fair, we didn’t try too hard because life got in the way). I’m determined to bring it back this year, I’m thinking citrus groves in the spring and beachcombing in the fall. It won’t be the same, but it will be an adventure, nonetheless.

While we miss our mountains, I can’t complain with the beach calling from both the east and the west. A beautiful drive is never too far away.

As much as we’ve moved (12 times in 14 years? Or is it 11?), or perhaps because we’ve moved, we are a family that craves structure and familiarity so things that tie places together make it all work for us. Finding a church with the same “feel” from one city to the next; welcoming the seasons with a long peaceful drive; finding community with the elderly (my daughter) or with the local wrestling team (my son) or the local transplant families (my other son) – these things matter.

Even as children get older and don’t want to hunt eggs or wait for Santa, celebrations matter, too. In addition to the holidays of our faith, we like to celebrate Mardi Gras for our Pensacola roots, St. Patrick’s Day because we love any excuse to watch The Quiet Man, and Cinco de Mayo to honor our grandparents’ Hispanic heritage. We don’t throw huge parties, but we do small things as a family to mark the days. My husband attaches to these celebrations more than I do, and I know the children love them as well so one of my goals this year is to make them more interesting and fun, to step them up. When you have kids in college who make the trek home for Mom’s Tres Leche Cake (full disclosure – it’s actually Alton’s Tres Leche Cake) it’s well worth the work. This year, I plan to beg my mother-in-law to ship me her homemade tamales.

Of all our mini-celebrations, Cinco de Mayo definitely brings the best food.

The last move, we lost a bit of our grip on the things that slow us down as a family. I’m not sure if it’s the kids getting older, too much on my plate, or a combination of those and other things but I have determined the less we have changing seasons, the more scattered things seem to become. In the interest of remedying that in our near-seasonless climate, my goal this year is to change seasons inside the house, so that we are subtly reminded of the passing of time and the draw to one another as a season comes to a close is still there.

I’m thinking today of ways to accomplish that (after spring cleaning, which has to come first and wow, I’m running out of spring…). I’m looking at linens and flowers and window treatments; at the rugs and throws and dishes. I’ve already lightened up the dining room and I want to carry the feel of spring into the living room and bedrooms. I’m thinking plants, rearranging furniture, lightening bed linens, and I’m considering changing out window treatments so that they let more light in. Every year, I say I’m putting in a clothesline but this year, I’m committed.

My dream clothesline but, alas, I have no woods in the city so the back lawn will have to do.

Then, in the fall, I’ll reverse the process and bring out all the heavy things again. Even though we won’t get much in the way of changing leaves or snow, we can still have hoodies and fires and marshmallows and cocoa. We’re all about blooming where we’re planted, and we’ve been planted in Disney country so, while we miss our mountains, we’ll count our blessings and experience everything from Key West to St. Simon’s before they move us again.

Some spring and summer decorating inspiration – this is just what I had in mind.

I’m also lightening my closet permanently this year, I’ll tell you more about that soon. What are your season-welcoming rituals and decorating plans? I hope beautiful spring has sprung wherever you are and you’re enjoying it with your windows open and the hope of possibility in your heart.

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