Summer is around the corner. The days are getting longer, flowers are opening, and so are many opportunities that have been closed or restricted for over a year now due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On the first warm day, I head out with fingers crossed. After leaving Highway 11 at Athena and escaping to Highway 334, where traffic is a rumor, I get a pleasant surprise. A roller-coaster ride ensues through the kingdom of wheat, with sightings of kestrels perched on power lines and magpies practicing aerobatic maneuvers.

An upside to this past year of collective isolation is that we (like millions of others) delved into the craft of cocktail making. We’d take turns making some new libation and picking up knowledge along the way. And we discovered many of our favorite drinks fall into the category of cocktail sours.

When flowers are fully open, moths can instantly appear. Their long proboscis, much like a butterfly's, is able to access deeply hidden nectar. Going out in the evening with a flashlight reveals a world usually little noticed. Hawk moths have large iridescent eyes readily visible with a flashlight as they dart from flower to flower. Put chairs out to watch the nightly spectacle.

Time to host a porch party! Whether you’re inviting one person or a small group, your porch or your deck, (front yard or back) is an ideal venue. Dust off the outdoor furniture, and dress up the porch up with baskets of flowers, party lights, candles and festive lanterns.

Some community events are starting again as COVID-19 numbers improve in the Walla Walla Valley; other organizations and businesses are still offering virtual things to do.

The home kitchen of Damien and Rachna Sinnott is filled with aromas, from the spices used in the South Asian Indian fare Rachna grew up with to house-smoked salmon that's a reminder of Damien’s youth growing up in Ketchikan, Alaska.

In 20 years of standup work, comedian Nathan Brannon has explored brushes with the animal kingdom, particularly as his life took a rural twist in 2016. That’s when Brannon left Los Angeles for a permanent home in his wife’s native Walla Walla Valley.

After climbing several more miles, artfully dodging potholes, I burst through the fog ceiling. In this transition zone, a weak sun shows promise but fails to deliver. A Canadian thistle sunbathes in the frozen air. Ice-coated bushes glisten.

Phillip Thompson and Patricia Orosa Liotta Thompson had a big remodeling job on their hands at 1048 Francis Ave., but the result and its classic 1938 charm is the ideal home for this couple.

Spring is a time of renewal and change, and here at Lifestyles magazine it’s no different. This month marks a shift for us as managing editor Jedidiah Maynes moves into a full-time reporting position with the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Annette Potter takes the magazine reins.