It’s the third week of February, so it’s my turn to share thoughts with Forest Park Review readers. Although I’ve tried to write about a few other themes, I keep coming back to this, so here goes:

All I can think about is love. Perhaps because this is Valentine’s week, or maybe I’m inspired by the lavender bags filled with donations to the Community Center Food Pantry on so many doorsteps for pickup or the massive Girl Scout Cookie pickup that took place this weekend, but I am so grateful to all my friends and neighbors who share their love.

I know, it isn’t a salacious topic, it isn’t thrilling, or the most interesting thing I have ever shared in print, but it is all I can think about.

Perhaps I’m not alone. Could be the sun’s angle as every day we are closer to the spring equinox, or is it the warmer post-El Nino weather we are experiencing, or maybe it was that paczki sign in the window of Kay’s Bakery that has me on this path, but I am filled with happiness. 

Welcome spring, even if it is February. Hello there, jogger; greetings, Miss stroller-pusher; good day, fellow dog walker; and high-five to that dad playing catch with his son. 

The signs of spring in Forest Park have started; we have turned a corner and soon there will be chalk art on the sidewalks, Little League Mighty Tees playing at 16th Street Park, and local yards will fill with the foam remains from epic nerf gun battles. 

In just 2½ weeks, my fellow Forest Parkers will get to gather at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, the unofficial start to a year of festivals, block parties, Grove gatherings, walks to Portillo’s and Slurpies from 7-11. Community conversations have shifted to hope of great parade weather, free of precipitation and full of sunshine. 

I know there are friends planning the Kiwanis annual pasta dinner, the Memorial Day service, submitting applications to be lifeguards at the pool, making reservations for summer enrichment programs, and laying the groundwork for the All-School Picnic surely has started, so another year of hometown love has begun.

This is what Forest Park is best at — all of these gatherings, weekend and weekday festivities, service clubs, all these people who do a little extra so our families can be together. I am so grateful to all of you, most of whom I don’t even know. Even if you prefer to avoid a parade, dodge Harrison Street on Softball Tournament Weekend, are perplexed by Showman’s Rest, there is something for all of us, and we respect and even appreciate when someone shows enthusiasm for Casket Races or St. John’s annual Lenten Lessons and Carols.

Thank you to all friends and neighbors and the Forest Parkers who bring a little extra to the table so we all can enjoy. Thank you for the Community Garden; your garden plots inspire me every time I pass. Thank you for Groovin’ in the Grove, a Tuesday night music show each summer. Thank you for all the moms and dads who plan and execute Teacher Appreciation Week because our teachers are the best. Thank you for planning veteran appreciation remembrances and placing flags on the graves of our veterans; I appreciate you. Thank you to everyone who smokes ribs for Rib Fest, shares Art at GarART, and plans the Wine Walks on Madison. Thank you to our citizens who help out at the Soapbox Derby, who are members of the Historical Society, the hundreds of people who have participated in running or coaching our youth sports, volunteer in scouting, have joined Rotary or Kiwanis, and to everyone who supports the Parenthesis Annual Sale.

So cheers to you, Forest Park friends and neighbors. You are the reason people love living here. 

I’m so glad I get to share my life with you.