Like hibernating animals, Midwesterners emerge from winter every year with a stretch and a deep sigh of gratitude for warmth and sunshine. Never mind that it's usually still chilly and overcast in April (read: the last three weeks).Still, we are grateful to be loosed from the layers, the numb extremities, the reluctant cough of a car engine.


Drink Great Grandma's whiskey sours

My great-grandma Faye LaMarche liked her drinks strong, her cigarettes smoked and her life lived. All that and she still made it to age 100. Her slushy recipe for this spirit has become a family favorite, and its icy temperature and citrus-masked potency make it perfect for spring evenings. Hostess of many a dinner gathering, Great Grandma's concoction yields one gallon of party juice - plenty for your own guests. Enjoy, darling.


Read in Goodale Park

This Victorian Village favorite (120 W. Goodale St.) is filled with joggers, dogs and Frisbees by 5 p.m., but there's plenty of space to sprawl out on a blanket and soak up some sunshine after you've punched your time card for the day.

Pack a book (or your iPad, fancypants) and stay a while. The tomes I plan to finish before the ComFest crowds conquer the green are all memoirs by people I wish would magically appear on my blanket: "Blood, Bones & Butter" by Gabrielle Hamilton, "Life" by Keith Richards and "Decoded" by Jay-Z.


Go bargain shopping

Bank on others' warm-weather purges. Their spring cleaning trash is just begging to be your treasure, especially at the ritzier suburban thrift stores.

Peruse department store sales racks for crazy-good deals on winter staples like cardigans, turtlenecks and winter coats. But don't buy styles that are too trendy or they'll just gather dust come winter.

Local designers are offering discounts through social media accounts as they make room for this season's stock, and various neighborhoods are gearing up for community-wide yard sales. Check out German Village's Village Valuables event, for example, May 14 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Light the outdoors

A subtle glow has a way of changing things. Take the firefly. It's just an airborne bug, but pop some light in that bum and we shriek like kids when they fly our way. Same goes for outdoor spaces. Set the mood with one of the many options available, whether it's strands of bulbs packed away since Christmas or hanging Mason jars filled with lit candles (I swoon for the ones at Pottery Barn). Be on trend with lamps and chandeliers that are made for outdoor weather but look like they belong in a posh living or dining room.


Gawk at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Going to Inniswood Metro Gardens in the spring is a visual ambush of awesome after a winter spent smothered in white.

This Westerville park's 121 acres are bursting in color from nearly 2,000 different species of plants. There's plenty to ogle with your eyes, but your other senses will thank you, too, as the herb gardens perfume the air and water purrs through roller coaster streams.

Visiting Inniswood, 940 South Hempstead Rd., reminds us that without torturous winters, we wouldn't fully appreciate the newness of spring.