Count this native Iowan as a transplant who prefers the weather here.

This past weekend delivered a good reason. On Saturday, the first day of spring, we woke to an inch or so of snow. By Sunday, it was warm enough to tackle outdoor chores.

Unlike here, winters in Iowa resemble the freezer section of your refrigerator. Snow and ice linger until significant warming manages to chip away at the buildup. It's frigid and gray, and nowhere you'd want to be very long.

But in southwest Kansas, a heavy snowfall often is gone in days. So, other than dry conditions that hinder farmers, some super windy days and a bit of unpredictability, there's plenty to like about the local weather.

Last Sunday's temperatures in the upper 50s brought a great opportunity to get outside for yard work. At our place, that meant cleaning up the home of the hostas and day lilies. While we saw no sign of the hostas, the day lilies were off to a great start.

I used to dread any kind of yard work. When you're a kid and told to do it, the dandelion pulling, hedge trimming and other duties can be pure drudgery.

Now it's not so unwelcome, but rather a nice escape from the rigors of everyday life one that some experts see as a way to better health, as well.

Studies have shown that performing yard work at least once a week is an effective way to ward off osteoporosis by building and maintaining healthy bones.

Researchers have found that women age 50 and older who gardened at least once a week had higher bone density readings than women who engaged in other exercise, such as jogging, swimming, walking or aerobics.

While osteoporosis ordinarily is associated with women, it's a health threat for all older adults.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that nearly 44 million U.S. women and men age 50 and older are at risk for the bone-thinning disease that's a leading cause of bone fractures in older Americans.

Because yard work features such weight-bearing activities as pulling weeds, digging holes, pushing a lawn mower and raking leaves, it's considered a good way for anyone to maintain and build bone density.

Additional benefit comes in exposure to sunlight that boosts vitamin D production and aids the body in calcium absorption. (But always take sun in moderation and keep the sunscreen handy.)

Tending to the flowers, lawn and shrubs also is a stress reliever that delivers instant gratification.

No one has to be left out. Folks without their own garden spot have been able to try their hand at flowers and veggies at the local Community Garden on Schulman Avenue.

Plus, the Finney County Extension Office offers a bountiful menu of activities that encourage children and adults to cultivate an understanding and love of gardening and other enjoyable, beneficial outdoor activities.

As for the weather, this past week got even more interesting with rain and a chance of snow, which didn't materialize.

Still, we should expect at least one more wintry blast. Spring snowstorms certainly aren't unheard of here.

The good news is we're closer than ever to spending more time outside, enjoying nature and working toward better health.

I can feel it in my bones.

E-mail Editor-publisher Dena Sattler at denas@