Punxsutawney Phil?

That critter can’t forecast the arrival of spring any better than that uncle you have who talks too much between sips of whiskey.

Mother Nature is the one you needed to turn to if you want to know when winter is going to give way to warmer weather.

And if you take a drive through rural America – at least in our neck of the woods – she’s already showing you a few important signs.

Likely the most obvious is the sprouting of beautiful daffodils. They’re already popping up and flowering along countless roadsides.

They’re sure signs that things are preparing to change.

Are there times when this isn’t the way things go? Sure.

Just think back to 1980, when the region got nearly two feet of snow combined on the last day of February and the first day of March.

Daffodils that had already started to bloom were buried in way too much of the cold and frozen white stuff.

But that was an unusual event.

More often than not, the arrival of daffodils – and the lengthening daylight – are surefire signs that winter is getting ready to come to an end.

And as boaters, warmer days can’t get here soon enough.

So – even with a strong cold front working its way to the region – it’s time to make sure you have everything ready to spend some safe time on the water.

If you keep your boat here at Lynnhaven Marine, you’re good to go. And if you have any questions, ask one of the staff.

Otherwise, it’s time to de-winterize your vessel and do the things you always do to get it ready. You know, the lower unit, water discharge hole … stuff like that. Make sure your safety gear is all in order and in a place that makes it all quick and easy to get to.

If you’re an angler, you’ve probably already been using your vessel. If not, it’s high time to make sure you have all your gear cleaned up and organized. There’s nothing worse that not having that stuff at the ready if you fall into a good bite.

And, most of all, be safe and follow the rules of the waterways. Your outings will be a lot more enjoyable if you do.

To read more of my work, go to: leetolliveroutdoors.com