As I step out onto the porch, the scent of spring fills my lungs.

With pause in my steps, the new day is a welcome break from the prior cool, blustery gray days of spring.

This day, Sunday, is new. It has a feeling of freshness, of hope.

I am paralyzed and mesmerized. My eyes focus on the beauty all around me.

A crisp blue sky dabbled with soft poofs of clouds first catches my attention. The color is pure, as if it’s been plucked from a box of Crayola crayons.

The grass is bright green, brighter than the day before. And taller, thanks to the rain that kissed the earth the previous days.

It’s so strange how the grass seems to grow overnight.

Bees hum as they search for the nearby nectar of blossoms on the flowering trees and other early spring buds.

I can’t see them, but I hear them as they go about their activities for the day.

Birds chirp in conversation and tweet in song from the boughs of trees throughout the neighborhood.

The warmth of the sun beats down upon my relaxed body and face. I let it soak in. Vitamin D is good.

A sound — a tractor — momentarily breaks my concentration.

A neighbor is the first to pull out the mower to tackle the ever-growing grass.

The steady whir of the tractor is familiar and somehow reassuring.

I glance across the street. Another neighbor and her husband are outside, too, readying themselves to do yard work.

She is kneeling on the grass, with a shovel in hand, tending to flowers. He is armed with a rake.

A youth suddenly whizzes by on a skateboard and waves. I wave back.

Two doors down, a neighbor tends to his yard’s garden beds, pulling weeds and turning soil.

Their little dog takes laps around the yard and every so often stops when a noise catches his attention, like the loud engine of a pickup truck hauling a trailer with a mower and other equipment for yard maintenance.

It passes several houses and then stops in front of an elder neighbor’s yard. She can no longer care for her yard, so the maintenance crew handles it every few weeks.

That’s what I need. My eyes shift to our garden beds that need to be nurtured.

The peony stalks are rising through the leftover, dried weeds and stalks of last fall we did not clear.

An invasive weed-like plant is poking its head up through the soil that needs to be turned. I can’t seem to get rid of that plant.

The edging of the beds is blurred with the grass and must be redone.

There is so much to do. And today is the day people are getting started.

Why not? It’s a beautiful spring day, the first of its kind in weeks.

Neighbors appear to be happy to be outside in the sunshine, working, playing, living.

We are all breathing the same fresh air of spring and thinking — and doing — the same thing.

And then I remember. As comforting and ordinary as this all seems, this is no ordinary day.

This is life during a pandemic.

This is the first warm day of spring when, after several weeks of staying at home, individuals are stepping out of their homes to be active and participate in the usual activities of spring cleanup.

Neighbors must wave and talk to one another from their yards, or at least from six feet apart.

We must wear masks when we go out in public and cannot maintain the required distance from one another, repeatedly wash our hands and wipe down surfaces, work remotely, help our children with distance learning, avoid gatherings and activities we once enjoyed with others in public, and miss our loved ones we cannot visit in person because it is too risky.

It is a new chapter for the human race, one we are writing as we walk, talk and breathe.

But for a moment, life feels as it once did.

I close my eyes to savor it, tuck the memory in my pocket and then step forward.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com.