It appears that basically overnight, spring has arrived in Northwest Florida. It has warmed up and I turned off the house furnace and turned on the overhead fans.

The grass in our neighborhood is growing like crazy, and the flowering bushes are budding and will soon be ablaze with color. Leaves are beginning to return to the deciduous trees and we can tell that Easter will arriving soon. We have awakened from our winter freeze at last and, as far as I am concerned, none too soon.

I can now put my plants back out on the porch where they'll get regular sunlight and not just light from my overhead house lights. Some of them are looking mighty droopy. As I write this column, the birds are singing sweetly outside my window.

Along with the return of spring, comes inevitable work, both in the yard and the house.

It is time to clean up the yard, trim any shrubs that need trimming, pull any weeds in the garden or sidewalks, get the lawn mower out and get the grass cut, and clean out the gutters.

The fun part is getting some pretty flowers planted. My azaleas are loaded with buds and I can't wait to see them bloom. There are some new varieties of azaleas that bloom several times during the spring, summer and fall. They may be something new to plant in your flower bed.

Other recommended flowers for our area are rhododendrons (azaleas actually belong to the rhododendron family), impatiens, salvia, petunias, and verbena, all of which flower in a variety of colors.

Check with the nursery if you aren't sure how well a certain plant will do in our area. I can kill just about any plant, but I keep trying. If you don't think the plants will do well in the ground, put them in pots and then they can be brought in for the winter. That is what I do for my hibiscus plants.

Thos who attended the Lenten Lunch at New Bethel UMC had a delicious lunch and an inspiring message given by Monsignor Michael Tugwell. The fellowship was delightful.

Try and join with us next Thursday. We'll meet 11:45 a.m. March 1, with the luncheon beginning at noon at First United Methodist Church, 599 8th Ave., Crestview. The speaker is the Rev. Darryl Hooks.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.