It was a winter we could live with -- but we're still happy to see spring.
In honor of the season that officially starts today, here are five ways to get out -- and get ready -- for what warmer weather brings.
1. Go trout fishing
With spring comes trout -- novices who don't have their own fishing equipment are welcome to try their luck at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium (516-692-6768, cshfha.org). "We stock the creek with about 200 fish a week," says acting director Steven DeSimone. Tour the facility ($4-$6 admission) before heading to the on-site creek to fish. Prospective anglers pay $5 to fish, plus $4 for each fish caught; rental poles and bait are available on-site. Be aware: This is not a catch-and-release program -- if you catch it, you're taking it home. Hours are 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Friday-Tuesday, starting this Friday.
2. Take a gardening class
Now's the time to be thinking about this year's gardening strategy. The Seatuck Environmental Center is hosting a free "Ecological Gardening" program 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday in Islip. You'll learn how to reduce your yard's impact on the environment by conserving water and eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
"This will be a Long Island-specific lecture," says education director Peter Walsh, highlighting the benefits of using native grasses and plants, offering solutions to problems ranging from shaded areas to soil amendments. Preregistration is required (550 South Bay Ave., 631-581-6908, seatuck.org).
3. Conquer the wilderness
Want to feel more confident on your next camping trip or long-distance hike? Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve is hosting a hands-on "Intro to Wilderness Survival" workshop for adults only 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday that will teach you how to find food, build a shelter and start a fire. "The premise is that if you're lost, you can survive long enough for someone to find you," says park manager Len Krauss. Reservations for the workshop, which costs $4, are required (631-423-1770, nysparks.com).
4. Clean up the shorelines
It's a different kind of day at the beach. Volunteers of all ages are invited to get their hands dirty for a good cause on Saturday morning at Day County Park in East Rockaway (1 First Ave.). There, a boat will depart for remote islands along the South Shore estuary for a two- to three-hour cleanup organized by Operation Splash, a group that removes debris and trash from local waterways.
"You should be dressed weather-appropriate and bring a change of clothes," says freelance boat captain Don Harris, who is coordinating the cleanup. Gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses and sturdy, waterproof shoes are a must. Last year's event collected more than 10,000 pounds of garbage (9 a.m.-noon Saturday, 516-378-4770, operationsplash.org; rain date Sunday).
5. Cook spring's bounty
Spring vegetables such as asparagus, peas, fiddlehead ferns, mushrooms and radishes will soon be in season -- "Once Upon a Hearth" is an all-day conference March 31 at the Winkler Center for Adult Learning at The Waldorf School of Garden City that's focused on healthier eating. Running 8:30-3 p.m., attendees will learn about cooking nourishing meals for a families on the go, the Slow Food movement, cooking techniques and food trends. "This is all about making people aware of the concept of getting food back where it needs to be to nourish the body and the soul," says Bhavani Jaroff of iEat Green in Old Westbury, who is teaching a one-hour cooking class. Admission for the day's events costs $45 (225 Cambridge Ave., 516-741-7167, winklercenter.org)