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As winter slowly draws to an end, the days are getting longer and warmer. You begin looking forward to what the future months have to hold for your outing excursions. Northerners are all too familiar with the shoulder season call endearingly called “Mud Season”. The ground begins to thaw and any surface that is not paved becomes a virtual mud bog to the dismay of its inhabitants. Instead of grumbling about mud season, we have some ideas that will boost your morale and actually look forward to it each year.

1. Hunt for Shed Antlers

Set out for a walk in the forest looking for antlers shed from moose, elk, and deer. March and April are the months when these animals shed their antlers falling to the forest floor. Focus your search around and in places where deer overwinter. These places feature mature evergreen trees such as spruce, cedar, and hemlock, which offer protection to the deer from heavy snow. Make a game out of with your family and friends to see who can find the largest set of antlers.

2. Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

On those occasional days when the temps unusually spike, throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. Beat the doormats and rugs with a broom, wash and clean windows removing mold and dirt buildup, dispose of wood-stove ashes into the garden, and organize your storage spaces ridding them of obsolete items. An early start on spring cleaning early will allow you the freedom to play outside sooner without worrying about those house cleaning tasks.

3. Weekend Getaway

When the skiing season draws to close, the hubbub in these resort towns become nonexistent. Known as a shoulder season in lodging, hotels, spas, and B&B’s advertise packages during mud season to increase their occupancy rates. Many offer combination packages that include dining or spa treatments along with the stay at a fraction of the price during the high season. Search for your favorite resorts to see what they have to offer. Indulge yourself for the weekend while you await the awakening of spring.

4. Hang Out in a Sugar Shack

Mud Season is also the season for maple syrup production. Maple tree sap starts running when the temps warm during the day and freezes at night. The wider the temperature variance, the more fluid the sap. Freshly harvested maple sap is boiled into syrup in dwellings known as sugar shacks or sugar houses. These places are one of the best places to mingle during the Mud Season. Due to the vast amounts of heat required to boil the sap, sugar houses radiate warmth and sweetness. Some makers of maple syrup hold open houses but the majority of the others have an informal open door policy where neighbors, friends, and family gather to catch up, reminisce, and plan upcoming adventures.

5. Pond Skimming Contest

Head out to your local ski resort and witness one of the most entertaining mountain contests of the year. Whether you ski/ride or not, Pond Skimming Contests are a must see during Mud Season. Participants wear ridiculous costumes as they attempt to build up sufficient speed to skim across the pond’s surface at the bottom of a ski run. Typically, resorts hold an entire day of fun-filled festivities while you cheer on your favorites as they attempt to glide across the water in their ski gear.

6. Canoeing / Kayaking

Once the ice melts off the ponds and lakes, it is a great time to break out your canoe or kayak. Discover signs of life emerging as you meander near the shoreline. Basque in the serenity as most likely you will have the entire place to yourself. Unless you are experienced, avoid rivers during this time as the water flow is at the highest levels as the snow melts from the mountaintops. Be sure to wear insulating layers and waterproof clothing to keep your warm and cozy.

7. Look for Spring Wildflowers

Some of the most amazing flowers bloom during the Mud Season before the leafing out of the hardwood forests’ canopy. The lack of leaves overhead warms up the forest floor giving life to these floral beauties. Spring Ephemerals is the name given to these perennial plants since they have a fleeting presence. The only moment they have in the sun is during the early spring. The start of the Mud Season is an excellent period to search for crocuses like clusters of small white flowers referred to as snowdrops, the first wildflowers to bloom. Later in the season, search for spring wildflowers such as bloodroot, trilliums, marsh marigolds, trout lilies, jack-in-the-pulpit, and spring beauty. Be sure to wear your waterproof boots as the ground is soft and soggy.

So get out there and EMBRACE Mud Season with a variety of activities you can enjoy with neighbors, family, and friends. Keep an eye out in your local news for events that will be sure to lift your spirits. Happy Mud Season!

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