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Sunny with a high of 75. Early April known as the month when most of the country grabs hiking boots, a good hat, the picnic basket, and goes just about anywhere so long as there is fresh spring air. Except for 2020. When our world battles the pandemic known as COVID-19 and all of that changed.

Spring is my favorite season by far. Dead grass transforms into a beautiful spectrum of colorful wildflowers on a bright green grassy canvas (which also seems to do some real work to my allergies but it’s worth it). Trails come alive with happy bikers and hikers, and the long days usher in the season of warmth and sunshine. Add COVID-19 to that equation and most of us are trying to figure out how to be responsible while spending time staying acquainted with the Natural State. After some personal experience and a few good recommendations, here’s a quick list of how to be responsible while not missing out on Spring!  

1. Plant a garden

After coming through the era of genetically modified organisms (best known as GMO’s) used often in food growth and processing, there’s been a surge of organically grown non-gmo food producers. It’s not easier, but I’ve become convinced its more fun to give your own green thumb a shot! I’m not suggesting buying a field, two chickens, and a cow, but planting a garden is simpler than most realize! And talk about fresh food 😊 But easily my favorite part of planting a garden during this tumultuous season is the principle. There is still life and growth amidst a time of fear and struggle. For more reasons why now is the time and help on getting starting check out this article!

2. Biking

We’ve had so much fun seeing the Cottages come alive with families out walking dogs or biking on the trails running through the valley. Arkansas (and Fort Smith in particular) is home to some incredible bike trails. Some of our favorites are the trails spanning around Ben Garen, Fort Smith’s largest park. Whether you’re more of a pavement biker or are ok with getting a little dirty, Ben Garen has some awesome trails to keep you entertained and everyone else safe. Check out their website for maps and where to start!

3. Run/Jog/Walk

Speaking of Ben Garen park, they have some incredible trails (paved and dirt) for a nice evening jog. Couple that with some incredible weather and extra energy from being in the house, you’ll find us out there multiple times a week (especially with the running trail right behind the Cottages ptl). Whether you’re into a nice 10k, prefer more of a jog to music, or just a relaxing walk, don’t miss out on clearing your mind and moving your body on the trails!

4. Outdoor Reading

Hear me out on this one. I know not everyone gets a kick out of page upon page of words too small to distinguish, but I think there is some real power there. It has been a while since our world has felt so separated and the risk is high for loneliness and depression during this difficult time. That’s why I couldn’t help but share a quote from C.S. Lewis I saw recently. His words were, “We read to know we are not alone.” Simply put, but a powerful recommendation on how to navigate seasons of separation and focus on staying mentally healthy when it isn’t always easy to. Here’s a list of the books everyone should read at least once to get you started!

I know we’re all ready to go back to having coffee dates, normal school schedules (can I get an amen), and a lot of other blessings we enjoy. Once this is all done I hope and pray we have a renewed sense of gratefulness for phrases like “just the usual”. But until then give this list a shot and let us know what you love the most! And if the natural lifestyle calls your name too, we have to say (shameless plug 😊) there may be a Cottage with your name on it! Nestled right behind Ben Garen with unique access to its biking/running trails and five minutes away from the golf course or beautiful Torraine Lake, there’s nothing quite like the Valley in Stoneshire. And the good news is you don’t have to leave the safety of your home to discover what makes the Cottage lifestyle unique. Click here for more info or call Rocky for a private showing!

Until next time, stay safe and healthy~