View From the River: Margaret Nelson – Enjoy the season, even the mud

Margaret Nelson

Margaret Nelson COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 03-15-2024 8:31 AM

As I write, the sun is shining and the sky is clear and blue. Hard to realize that one year ago our region had three feet of snow in the middle of March.  

Welcome to March. My husband informed me early in our relationship in Bangor (Maine) that “where I come from, March is a spring month.” Despite this Connecticut boy’s observation, we opted to get married at the end of March in Bangor. That year, there was a New England-wide snowstorm that was actually called Snowstorm Nelson.

This year I wondered about the saying, “in like a lamb, out like a lion” -- or the reverse. It was 15 degrees, and the sun was shining on March 1. The cold seemed lion-like to me, but the sunshine seemed lamb-like. So, what was it? It is so confusing! What will March 31 be like?

Last week, The River Center's Mini Explorer program for preschoolers and their parents and caregivers explored the trails at the Harris Center’s Hiroshi Loop Trail in Dublin. It was March at its best, muddy and wet and everyone had a great time. When was the last time you let mud goosh between your boots, heard the sucking sound as you lifted your boot out of the mud and took a moment to hear the birds start their spring tunes?

The Mini Explorers program was designed, in part, to give an opportunity for young families to experience local trails and do something fun as a family. And that is exactly what happens. A mom talks about how she plans to bring the rest of her family back to a trail on the weekend. Another adult observes that they had no idea what this little parking area was for, and now sees that it is a great walk in the woods for little ones. An hour in the outdoors, running, picking up worms, throwing sticks in the brook, walking across a log, can lay the scene for a fabulous nap. And everyone wins.

We live in a beautiful place, and it is a joy to help families discover the hidden and not-so-hidden gems. The Mini Explorers have discovered the beautiful playground at Mount Monadnock State Park’s Gilsum Pond area in Jaffrey. They visited Converse Meadow in Rindge and spent a rainy day under cover at MacDowell Dam. They pushed strollers along several of our region’s bike trails and enjoyed the accessible trail on Crotched Mountain in Greenfield.

An important outcome of this program is that adults and children are making new friends. We could all learn from this enthusiastic little boy who made sure to introduce himself to another child, “Hi! My name is _____! And I am 4! What’s your name?!” Personally, I think I might skip the age part, but the enthusiastic introduction is great. A little girl happily exclaimed that “hiking with you (meaning her friend she met at Mini Explorers) is my favorite thing to do!”

Dave and I have decided that March is a great month to seek out local waterfalls and beautiful outlooks before the leaves come out. Last weekend it was White Ledges in Temple and Brush Brook Trail in Dublin. Where have you explored recently? It’s kind of fun to let that mud goosh between your boots … .

In closing, I’ll repeat this sentiment from one of the mini-explorers who turned to everyone with a simple wave and a big smile – “Bye friends! See you next time!”

To learn more about Mini Explorers, to make an appointment for free tax preparation or to see what else we have going on, go to or call 603-924-6800.

Margaret Nelson is executive director of The River Center Family and Community Resource Center.