This time of year warms my heart and makes me so excited I almost can't breathe for a second. My whole everything is happy and I'm pretty sure my heart jumps out of my chest each time I step outside and feel the increase in humidity, see the longer hours of daylight.
Growing up, this time of year meant one thing, and one thing only: Sandestin.
Every year we made the drive from Zionsville to Sandestin, happily packed in to some sort of mega-large vehicle. There was one trip when we went to Sanibel instead and it turned out to be a Red Tide year and there were dead animals all over the beach. And I don't technically think it's Sanibel's fault, but after that, we never ventured anywhere but Sandestin and Rosemary Beach for our family spring break. The Emerald Coast has our hearts.
Later in life our cousins starting joining us in Sandestin too, which made it that much more of a party.
It was at this point that things really got good for us Hoosiers, because our bracketology went from being a tournament from afar, to us being able to watch the games together - over feasts, with sunkissed skin and the kind of happy exhaustion that comes only from a long day at the beach. We basically created our very own version of March Madness.
Now, as we're living far apart - from Colorado to Texas to Indiana to D.C. and all sorts of stops along the way, our pool remains in tact. And it's the kind of tradition that makes me almost as happy as the balmy spring itself. It's something you know you can count on - that the email from my uncle, Mikey, will hit our inboxes. That the inevitable trash talk will come next. That my mom will make her picks based on (1) loyalty to Indiana, (2) loyalty to the Midwest and (3) the jerseys she likes.