Many of us have lived in Iowa long enough to know that while we enjoy seeing the snow melt and a gentle rain clean everything up after a long winter, we don’t put the snow shovel away just yet.

To put the snow shovel away in the middle of March is tempting the dark forces. The same thing with bringing my golf cart out of storage and parking it in the garage. We know the minute we do these things, it’s only a matter of time before the neighbor kids will be building a snowman in the yard.

Spring will get here. And as hard as it is to wait for it, we just need to be patient.

We need to adopt that same mindset with COVID-19.

No doubt we are all worn out from the past year. Some have lost loved ones to the virus. Many of us have contracted it and recovered. We have changed some of our habits, from how we shop for essentials to our spending of discretionary income. We have altered getting together with family and friends. We’re tired of wearing masks, using hand sanitizer and using terms like “social distance” and “mitigation efforts.”

It’s been a long winter if you will.

Now that there is positive news regarding vaccines, it would be easy to start relaxing those things we have been doing the past year to keep us and our friends safe. But we can’t relax things just yet. Not completely. Think of the snow shovel. We need to ease into it.

We are so close to spring that we can taste it. Close to winter being over, close to wearing lighter jackets, going for walks, close to playing golf, close to enjoying an adult beverage on the deck while the sun warms us.

We don’t wear good tennis shoes on our first walk through a field in the spring. It’s too wet and muddy and we’ll ruin our shoes. It’s great to be out walking, but the weather and ground will only get better with a bit of time.

Early season golf is fun, but one hits fewer balls caked in mud once the courses have time to firm up. The scores improve too.

COVID-19 vaccinations are in full swing and we wait for our turn to be vaccinated. There is a lure that maybe we don’t need the mask, don’t need the hand sanitizer and don’t need to avoid crowds because vaccinations are so close.

We need to be patient a while longer. It may be a couple of months, but after the last year, we can hold out. If we want to get this virus behind us, we need to.

So wear your mask, sanitize your hands, social distance when it’s appropriate. Spring is coming. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to. Among them is the day I never write the term COVID-19 again in a story or column. And also, putting the snow shovel away above the garage.

But not yet. I’m keeping it handy for a little while longer.