As nice as it is to see leaves bursting forth on the deciduous trees, blossoms blooming, days lengthening and temperatures warming, spring this year comes with misgivings.
It's the official start of the bushfire danger period. And for us on the South Coast, that's bringing unwelcome reminders of the perils we faced only nine months ago.
While the Bureau of Meteorology's spring outlook predicts the season will be wetter and drier than average, that doesn't lessen the danger of bushfire; it just shifts it.
The concern is the wetter, warmer weather will encourage an explosion of growth that will dry out by the end of summer. So, no sighs of relief or complacency. We should all remain vigilant.
On the first day of spring, the Eucla and South Interior areas of Western Australia were declared to be under catastrophic fire conditions. That's how dangerous things are.
Closer to home, despite the widespread devastation of last summer's fires, there is still plenty of bush left to burn. It is a grim fact of life that we have to expect and plan for bigger, hotter bushfires and a danger period that extends beyond what we are used to.
Spring heralds another danger. Warmer weather will tempt people to move around. Iso-weary city people will be more inclined to head to the bush or beach for a break, especially during the school holidays. And who can blame them?
But as experience has shown us, COVID-19 travels with people. We saw it spread and flare up during the northern hemisphere summer and we are likely to see it here too. Again, we must be vigilant about minimising the risks of exposure to the virus.
We are lucky enough on the South Coast to have plenty of space on most of our beaches. We are unlikely to see a repeat of the dangerous crowding on Sydney beaches early in autumn, which led to them being closed down.
However, there are some - Hyams Beach particularly - that are dangerously crowded even without the pandemic. The challenge for councils and health authorities is to ensure holiday-makers do not flock to one beach but spread themselves out.
It is incumbent on owners of holiday rentals to ensure strict limits on the number of people in any one dwelling. With Schoolies Week now cancelled on the Gold Coast, we are likely to see hordes of excited teens descend on the coast. Ensuring they are COVID safe is worth thinking about now.