What's that I hear? The sounds of birds chirping and squirrels playing in the trees? The squelchy crunch of melting pebbles of semi-frozen snowy ice beneath sparkling new puddle boots means warmer weather is well on its way.

Because we have been stuck in perpetual cold and darkness for what feels like the past three lifetimes (OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration - it's really only been two lifetimes), the melting and dripping of springtime is more than welcomed in the tundra we live in.

The first calendar day of spring was Wednesday, March 20, so buckle up. We're going to go through five of the best ways to prepare for spring.

Puddle boots


Spring means puddle season, and puddle season is one of the best seasons. Warm weather floods the streets and walking paths with melted snow, creating perfect little pools of water for optimal splashing.

Not only are these little pools perfect for splashing - doing so has actually been proven to help further a child's cognitive development. The Children and Nature Network found that when children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse, imaginative and creative. If it does all that for children, imagine what it can do for an adult!

Now, obviously puddles are damp. They're literally a pool of water to jump in. Fortunately, people have thought ahead to make sure toes stay dry: puddle boots.

These cheap, rubber boots (or galoshes, if you're like that) can be worn any time, day or night, and have a sole purpose of keeping those tootsies dry as a bone while puddle jumping. They come in cute designs and prints and sometimes they even light up.

Everyone needs puddle boots. And everyone needs to start jumping in some puddles.

Driveway shoveling


Even though warmer temps are here, it isn't warm enough to melt all  of the snow. There's still going to be that hump of packed-down snow and ice that causes you to gun it when trying to get into the garage or driveway.

Listen, there's no shame in the snow-ice-hump-game. It's just going to be a little work to get rid of it. Think of it as a warmup to that pre-summer-bod workout routine that you SWORE you were going to start doing once the calendar rolled to 2019. Besides, once you get through the mound of packed snow, your driveway will be free and clear and pulling into the garage will be a dream! Do it for the feeling of your car driving on unobstructed roadways for the first time in months. Ahh....

Flower power, baby!


Or, well, maybe more like veggie power.

For optimal blooms when the snow is gone, flower bulbs are best planted in the spring. However, when they start to sprout and bloom come springtime, it's like a little surprise and pop of color among all of the brown-and-white-snirt that is left over.

But if playing in the mud sounds like your cuppa tea, consider donning your new puddle boots (see above) and planting some early-spring veggies.

Snow peas, lettuce, kale, radish and broccoli are the five most commonly planted in the cooler months and can be harvested fairly soon after they sprout.

Surprises from your pooch


OK, this one is not the greatest, but it is completely necessary. It's something every homeowner who also has a canine in their lives may fear the most: The Great Dog-Dropping Cleanup.

You can't really blame the little fellas for leaving the droppings all over the yard every day in the winter. Where are they supposed to do their business? The toilet? (Actually, that would be pretty neat. If your pet can use the toilet, please send me an email. I need to see this.)

If you don't live in an apartment that requires tenants to clean up after their furry family members upon each trip to Numbertwosville, the spring melt is something to behold. It's like a sad version of an Easter egg hunt that nobody asked for.

The trick, dear pet-lovers, is to clean up as you go or make the mad dash into the yard, shovel in hand, to rid the place of excrement before the snowmelt turns it into a slush-dropping mess. That way, when nature calls to your four-legged children, the yard is clean and ready for business.

The real meaning of spring


Spring is a time of new beginnings. A time of awakening, not just for animals and plants and bugs. Oh no, we are talking everything - including spring allergies.

For anyone who deals with the annual time of runny noses, itchy and watery eyes and a sneeze that just won't quit, know you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, almost 8 percent of people 18 and older in the U.S. suffer from hay fever. That translates to more than 40 million people who deal with symptoms that range from a small tickle in the nose area to swollen, itchy, watery eyes, not to mention stuffy noses and fatigue.

Hay fever is no joke, people. The only defense against the onslaught of spring is the variety of multi-colored tablets that earn you looks from others when you pop that daily pill or snarf up that sweet, sweet antihistamine via nasal spray.

They're not cheap, either. Currently, a two-month supply of the generic purple allergy pills can run a person about $20 at their local drugstore. It almost makes buying stock in the antihistamine market the way to go.