Spring is quite a subjective term ‘round these parts. Many locales across the country spend a drawn-out March and April filled with nature’s rebirth, slowly and absorbingly admiring greening grass, cherry blossoms, blooming daffodils – two months of glorious warming and renewed abundance. For us here in the Downeast Lakes region, “spring” is a different season altogether.
You all know it – mud season. The painfully-slow melting of a deep snowpack in the woods, frost heaves that make your daily commute akin to a two-bit rollercoaster, and dooryards that mimic the mucky landscape of tarpits. Mud season gives us many joys and rites of passage, such as tapping maple trees, planning (not planting!) the garden season, and straightening up the messes left by winter gales. In the northern forest, what other folks think of as a classic spring – well, it tends to arrive in the wicked fury of late May. Flowers bursting, warblers singing, leaves popping, all in the quick span of 2-3 weeks, and then launched full bore into the sweaty, 85 degrees of early summer. It is beautiful and quick, arriving just as fast as it leaves.
The one constant during mud season in Grand Lake Stream is April 1st. Opening Day. FINALLY! While many streams in Maine remain choked by ice or inaccessible due to snow, Grand Lake Stream is a shimmering, babbling beacon during mud season. After a long, cold winter, anglers can dig out their fishing gear and favorite flies out of the shed, and cast a line with the spring-like hope that a landlocked salmon will rise to meet it. But, this day is much more than just the return of open-water fishing. It simultaneously signifies the end of the cold and the beginning of warmth. It represents life reborn to this three-mile fly-fishing mecca and the pilgrimages that follow. April 1st means chatting with old friends and joking about the wretched smell of stinky waders. Grabbing a hot breakfast at the venerable Pine Tree Store and eavesdropping on a liar’s bench tall tale. April 1st might come to most small towns without much fanfare, but in Grand Lake Stream, it’s circled on every local’s calendar with great adoration.
This year, join Downeast Lakes Land Trust on Friday, April 1st, from 7-10 am. We will have our outreach table perched in the parking lot above the Dam Pool, celebrating this traditional gathering of anglers from all over. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate (you’ll need it!), and learn what conservation projects we are working on. Sign up for our mailing list and get a free hat, or spin a yarn of the one that got away that morning. And, we won’t mind your stinky waders – they smell like spring. Tight lines…