Despite the week’s forecast and the National Weather Service’s inclusion of a chance of snow Friday (don’t worry, it won’t stick around), it’s clear that spring is here.

Spring in southeast Iowa means there are plenty of opportunities to shake the winter torpor that many of us fall into. When it’s cold and dreary, it’s hard to stay active. It’s even more of a challenge when we have a winter like this past one, when going outside some days was quite literally a dangerous step to take.

If you needed proof, Sunday’s brief thunderstorms and the severe thunderstorm warning they prompted for Jefferson County should be enough. Spring is back, with all that it entails.

As the weather warms, please take the opportunity to spend some time outside. Southern Iowa has some magnificent opportunities. Walks along the river in Ottumwa or on other communities’ trail networks are a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the chance to be outdoors.

They aren’t the only opportunity. The Historic Hills Scenic Byway will start showing its beauty as leaves and flowers return. We don’t recommend trying to hike or bike the entire route in a single day, but it’s a beautiful drive.

With the return of outdoor activity comes the need for a reminder for drivers. Be careful, especially in residential areas. Children with a full winter’s worth of cabin fever to run off aren’t the most cautious people in the world. Be aware that you’re more likely to encounter pedestrians, and be prepared to stop.

That’s less of a concern for most rural roads, but those have their own word of caution. Roads outside the cities are often used by bikers looking to get in a few miles where they’re less likely to run into traffic. The challenge is that those same roads often have less space.

Yes, when bicycles are out on roadways they are vehicles. And, yes, they are legally required to follow the same rules of the road. But when there is a conflict between a bike and a car or truck, the larger vehicle wins 10 times out of 10. That puts a significant responsibility on drivers to be aware and be cautious around bikers.

For those who want to get a start on gardening, there are opportunities. One coming up next week will have a special lesson on how to grow a giant pumpkin. And if anyone in the area is going to know what he’s talking about on that issue, it’s two-time state champion Dave Davis.

Spring is a rare opportunity in southeast Iowa. Summer heat hasn’t arrived, but the winter’s chill is finally gone. Get out. Enjoy it. This season only comes once a year, after all.

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