Something we do really well in Denton is outside.  Perhaps a better way of saying it is that we do outside well.

Spring is my favorite season.  My father-in-law always said spring isn’t real until Easter has come and gone.  His mantra was never put in a garden, no matter how tempting and promising the sun and warm weather may be, until the Easter bite is over.  I’ve proven him right time and again when I give in to the sweet scent of earth only to have a last winter blast swoop in out of nowhere Easter weekend forcing me to start over.

Now that Easter is behind us, spring is here to stay, at least for a few weeks.  If you know Texas like I do, you know that summer starts nipping at spring’s heels in no time.  So I relish this little window of near-perfect.  In fact, as I write this week, it is evening.  The sun is warm in the west, coloring the sky with shades of sunset.  I’m enjoying my patio, my favorite home office.  The yard is lush green from spring rains, the air heavy with honeysuckle running rampant along the back fence.  Hanging plants are rich with blooms.  A bright red cardinal perches on the birdfeeder, unconcerned with our dogs lazing on the deck.

I love patios, and it’s something Denton has in abundance. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner and after hours find us al-fresco.  Our living room, the beautiful courthouse lawn, is peppered with people relaxing, picnicking, reading, napping and playing under the canopy of vivid green, just-sprouted leaves.

Mornings on my way to the office, suits to students to families enjoy coffee at tables along the sidewalks. Lunchtime is the same, diners basking in fresh air recess from offices and classrooms.  Late afternoons, music drifts from patios when work is shelved and leisure time is celebrated.  I sometimes stand on the square and just drink in the sound and feeling of us living out loud, as much a part of spring’s return as flowers and birdsong.  I love our city.

Redbud Festival 2015We are fortunate.  Neighboring communities may have a patio here and there, but no place in our neck of the woods embraces outside as heartily as we do here. Denton is magnificent this time of year, in large part because some work without ceasing to make it so.  Some, like Keep Denton Beautiful (KDB).

Next Saturday, April 18, is a spring landmark event.  KDB’s Redbud Festival at the Denton Civic Center and Quakertown Park will certainly put Spring in your step if you haven’t found it yet.  Music, food and family fun surround all things outdoors:  plants, flowers, soil, supplies and, perhaps most importantly, trees.

The Redbud Festival is Denton’s official Arbor Day celebration, a community commemoration birthed by pioneers in wind-swept 1874 Nebraska.  According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, those early settlers of the west desperately missed the trees that forested much of their homeland back east.  They needed trees “as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.”  So they rallied town-to-town, and eventually state-to-state and around the world under the Arbor Day banner to reforest, a long-term sustainability strategy to meet skyrocketing demands for lumber as populations soared.

Nothing has changed since then except populations are far denser.  We still need trees for all the same reasons.  Arbor Day stuck because the need for trees has never waned.

Thanks to KDB’s leadership, keepers of all things naturally beautiful in Denton, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Denton for 24 years in a row, since 1991, as a Tree City USA community.  KDB knows trees.  In fact, the International Society of Arboriculture and the Texas Forest Service awarded KDB the 2014 Outstanding Arbor Day Activities Award for the stellar Redbud Festival and their Children’s Arbor Day event.  Our agricultural artistry does not happen by chance.  It is orchestrated, a labor of love.

Especially in Spring, our original independent spirit is evident outdoors. We save our Saturdays for outdoor shopping at Denton Community Market.  We eagerly await Redbud, the start of Twilight Tunes on the courthouse lawn next week, and Arts & Jazz Fest a couple of weeks later.  We flock to patios and open spaces because they offer a vantage point from which we don’t miss a moment.  We are immersed in and dazzled by Nature’s coming out.  We plant, we play and we party.

Denton, it’s time to come outside!