It's not just for hippos to wallow in ...
It's March, and the dreaded mud season is about to begin. Melting snow is the first sign of what's to come - the boot-sucking, car-stucking muck that makes our lives miserable.
But take heart, what some call the "fifth season" doesn't have to be such a pain. As the hippopotamus knows, mud has an upside and, if you look hard enough, you can find it in New Hampshire.
Start in the Mt. Washington Valley - businesses there see the advent of mud season as a marketing opportunity. As Marti Mayne, PR director for the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, says, "We roll out the brown carpet and invite people to come play in the mud capital of the universe."
Many B&Bs and inns liven up the slow season with "Come Play in the Mud" special packages. Riverbend Inn in Chocorua, for one, has a two-night special starting March 6 that includes massages, mud coffee cake, mud parfait and mud-dipped (actually, it's chocolate) strawberries.
It doesn't end there - you can get a mud wrap at The Mountain View Grand spa in Whitefield (they use organic mud from Hungary), a mudslide coffee at Zeb's General Store in North Conway and a flaming cocoa lava drink ("warm mud to take the chill off") at the 1785 Inn, also in North Conway. Have pets? Buy mud boots for them at Four Your Paws Only.
While you're in the mountains, take a tour of the many waterfalls that are running fast and fresh with the melting snow. You'll have to stand in muck to look at them, but - after the "mudder" of all winters - you're probably used to wet feet and don't mind as long it means spring is coming..
This article appears in the March 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine