Finding signs of spring in the Lakes Region
As winter ebbs and meteorological spring officially begins, we’re off to explore the Lakes Region on the lookout for signs of the season.
We’ll explore forests suddenly alive with activity, visit a sleepy New Hampshire village about to come out of hibernation, and stop by a farm where the drip, drip, drip of sap being collected to make maple syrup provides winter with a very sweet send-off.
Got a case of spring fever? Humans aren’t the only ones to feel a little pent up after months of icy cold. Driving north on I-93, take exit 24 to Route 3/Daniel Webster Highway, swinging south to enter Ashland, and then turn north to follow Route 3 to Holderness and the home of the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.. On Saturdays in February and March, families with children age 6 and older are invited to go on a Wild Winter Walk, a staff naturalist-led tour that checks in on how animals living here adapt to winter, and how they begin to anticipate spring just like the rest of us! If snow is still on the ground, the center provides snow shoes. If mud season is a little early, bring your rubber boots.
It’s back in the car, following Route 113 as it skirts the shore of Squam Lake heading north to Center Sandwich. This quaint village comes alive in summer with art galleries, its own Shakespeare theater troupe and weekly farmers market. But it also holds its own during winter and early spring with a weekly storytelling dinner at the cozy Corner House Inn. Every Thursday evening through May, the restaurant provides incentive to come out of hibernation with good food and a good story, courtesy of visiting storytellers, including Dover-based storyteller Debra Ballou, who stops by in late March to weave some of her spellbinding stories based on folktales, fairy tales, poems and personal adventures.
Want to spend the night? Check out the nearby Jonathan Beede House Bed and Breakfast. Besides the centuries-old charm, the historic inn also sits adjacent to four-season hiking trails, and – if Old Man Winter hasn’t loosened his grip by your visit – cross-country ski trails.
Leaving Sandwich, follow Route 109 south to our next outing into the natural world at the Loon Center in Moultonborough (loon.org). The loons themselves are away in warmer climates (their return migration is usually in April), but there is still plenty to see here. To check out who is up and about as spring gets underway, explore the center’s Markus Wildlife Sanctuary, 200 acres of upland forests, marshes, ponds, clear-running streams and more than 5,000 feet of pristine shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee. Can you spot squirrels and chipmunks unearthing treats the snow had buried? Do you spot any crocus flowers or patches of green or hear any spring peepers? These noisy little frogs can sometimes be heard around the end of the month.
Finally, it’s off to receive an early spring treat from Mother Nature in the form of sweet, sticky maple syrup. From Moultonborough, follow Routes 25 and 113 north into Tamworth to reach the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm just in time for Maple Sugaring Open House, held this year on March 25, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit the farm’s sugar bush, take a look at the tapped trees, step inside the sugar house, and sample pure maple syrup and sugar-on-snow. Games and activities for the children will help burn off the sugar high. Plus, mosey around the farm to find out how animals here are getting ready to welcome the new season.
And yes, this may include seeing some very cute baby animals.
Jacqueline Tourville is a New Hampshire-based freelance writer. She writes travel and vacation stories for PNH.