The first sign of a thriving strawberry plant? All you need to do is look for a spray of a leafy greenness showing above the soil line.
A bit trickier, though? Deciding upon the first sign that the beloved berry is rolling back into the Golden State, a place where the strawberry is known to grow very well.
There are actually a few seasonal signs of the strawberry's timely and tart return, if you know where to look.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Let's start by glancing in the direction of Tanaka Farms, of Irvine, which is opening its farm stand on Thursday, Feb. 2.
Shall there be luscious strawberries for sale? You bet. The founded-in-1940 farm says "we've got you covered" when it comes to the seedy-sweet fruit, so pop by the stand if you want to stock up on the ultimate friend to smoothies, ice cream, and healthy eating.
Another potent, get-excited sign? The poster art contest for the mega California Strawberry Festival closes on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
That says, without quibble, that the springtime Oxnard shortcake-and-more party is on fast approach (May 20 and 21 are the 2017 dates, if you want to start informing all of your berry-obsessed buds).
The four-dollar treat is now in season, reveals the shop, and will stay on the menu through about the middle of July. Peach Donuts will then reign, but Strawberry Donuts shall return, briefly, through late September, give or take a few days.
Which is all to say this: If you've longed for this sticky, amazing, have-to-have-two SoCal staple, you've probably been longing for it since last September, when the season for The Donut Man's famous Strawberry Donuts wrapped.
Best make your way to Glendora for the glistening goodie, all while feeling stoked that strawberries, one of the sweetest symbols of our state, are showing up in donuts, at farm stands, on festival posters, and, increasingly, on our plates.