Every one of you, gardener or not, has to be aware of the new season that is so colorfully announcing itself. As a gardener, it is a season that calls me to take the morning coffee outside, rediscover old plants emerging from their winter slumber, and to wonder what they will do this year. I have a special fondness for the iris and bought and planted several new ones last year that I hope will bloom this spring. One especially, “Strawberry Frosting” calls me out to the iris bed. I am looking forward to its appearance with great anticipation. Spring is also the time to make plans for new additions to the garden, for road trips to new nurseries, for the plant sales at local churches and for ordering things from favorite catalogues (mine is from a nursery in North Carolina.) It is a time to try new techniques and discover new plants — all of which takes time, thought, planning and effort.

It is like that with new relationships as well. Each year Citizen Advocacy coordinators around the state initiate a number of new relationships, and as a result of that, we think about what we can do to support the new ones that are beginning. While we don’t often analyze what is involved in developing our new relationships, over the years coordinators have listened to many advocates as they have begun their relationships and have heard some ideas which you might find helpful as you as you are getting acquainted. These ideas may also be useful in helping to strengthen, or even rekindle, a relationship “planted” some time ago. You’ll find several of those ideas on the reverse side of this paper.

With relationships, like gardening, there are always new things to try, new places to visit, new people to include on the road trips—and it does take time and thought and planning. It is a time of great expectation and discovery, of surprises and growth. And sometimes it seems like, and is, hard work. The beginning of a garden and the beginning of a relationship each calls for this time of preparation and planning. It will be a while before the results of these efforts appear, but one fine morning we will go out, coffee in hand, and will hopefully be greeted by the magnificent pink laced blossom of “Strawberry Frosting” and know that all the time spent in preparation and planning was worth the investment.