MAY DAY, MAY DAY! Welcome to the first day of May, celebrated throughout many countries as May Day, an ancient festival of spring.

As today’s cover story notes, it’s also the day for the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust’s 20th annual meeting,  being held at 8:30 a.m. virtually via Zoom (join by clicking on us02web.zoom.us/j/85611716359; for telephone audio only, call +1 929 205 6099, enter Meeting ID: 856 1171 6359).

The meeting will be followed at 10:45 a.m. by a group exploration of spring ephemerals (those plants that grow, flower and die in a few days — ah, but life is fleeting, isn't it?).

The website, usvlt.org, notes that participants are asked to meet at 1234 West Side Road (the driveway leading to the large brown barn) at 10:45 a.m. sharp. After a brief history of the conservation easements (completed in 2006 and 2008), the group will head down to the floodplain fields, said by Executive Director William Abbott to be some of the most fertile in the region.

The program will end by 12:30 p.m., at which point attendees may either head back to their cars or stay to enjoy their picnic lunch (to have either on the cobble beach along the river or in the agricultural fields). 

Sounds like a fun way to celebrate spring and the launch of Upper Saco Valley Land Trust’s “20 Years & Onward” capital campaign. 

DAFFODILS, MUD AND HOPE: After starts and stops, we’re ready for spring.

We feel for the poor daffodils that have bravely sprung up, peeking through the last patches of snow in some cases, including at the boulder memorial to my late brother Steve Eastman (1949-2008) at the top of Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum.

North Conway Community Center Executive Director Carrie Burkett posted a photo on Facebook this week of the hardy daffodils at the rock that the MWV Hogs and the Mud Bowl Committee erected in Steve’s honor after his passing in 2008, bearing his mantra of "Love everyone. Hold no grudges. Good deeds do count."

Carrie was a member of the Kennett High cross-country ski team with Steve’s and Sarah Eastman’s daughter Emily, and she fondly posted with her photo how Steve would cheer them on at their meets while taking photos that often appeared in that week’s edition of The Mountain Ear.

To see Carrie post her photo brightened my spirits — daffodils are a sign of hope, and it was a good omen — as we reported in Friday’s Sun, Mud Bowl directors recently announced that with increased COVID-19 vaccinations, Mud Bowl will return after a one-year hiatus the weekend after Labor Day.

This year’s games are set for Sept. 10-12, so mark it down on your calendar.

“Not doing Mud Bowl last fall was a huge thing as it left a big hole in the valley, and we are very excited to have it back,” said Jason Veno, co-captain of two-time champion North Country Crocs, a sales representative for sponsor Amoskeag Beverages, LLC of Bow and a 20-year member of the Mud Bowl Committee.

“Safety will be the No. 1 priority, and we know more now than we did and will definitely know more as we near the event. The teams look forward to getting back into the mud for sure. The Mud Bowl community is one big family that has not been together for awhile and we’re excited.”

For more, go to Mud-Bowl.org.

VALLEY PRIDE DAY: Speaking of community spirit, Valley Pride Day returns Saturday, May 8.

After 20 years of running this amazing event, Donna “the Queen of Clean” Woodward of Fryeburg, Maine, has handed the reins over to the Saco Valley Anglers/Trout Unlimited.

SVA is an organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and reconnecting the cold water resources in the Saco River Watershed. Funds donated to Valley Pride Day that are not used specifically for that day will be used as matching funds on grants to help with river protection and restoration.

The motto for this 21st year is “Take a walk, take a bag.”

Each community will have a sign-up station from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. where volunteers can pick up gloves donated by Memorial Hospital, bags donated by NH Beautiful, and designate the area they plan to clean.

Because of COVID-19, there will be some changes. All volunteers will be required to wear a mask when signing up and receiving bags and gloves. The town leads will also be required to wear masks when assigning locations and distributing supplies. Also, there will not be a barbecue, according to new coordinator Ron Mellady.

The town leads’ contact emails are as follows: Albany, Town Hall, sstowell@ncilnh.com; Brownfield, Brownfield Rec Center, billflynn358@gmail.com; Conway, Conway Information booth, Erik.corbett79@gmail.com; Fryeburg, American Legion on Bradley Street, gmallon@roadrunner.com; Hale’s Location, entrance, marycast99@aol.com; Jackson, Whitney Center, kereardon@gmail.com; Kearsarge/Intervale, Scenic Vista art 16,; macdougalls@roadrunner.com; Lovell, Lovell Library parking lot, thelonewolf57@gmail.com; Madison, Madison Elementary School, donnamveilleux@gmail.com; North Conway, Hampton Inn, bert@customartglass.com; and Tamworth/Chocorua/Wonalancet, Brett School, hbooska@tamworth.k12.nh.us.

If you have any questions or would like to be more involved, call Ron at (603) 387-0892 or email rmellady1@yahoo.com

IN HAPPY BIRTHDAYS this week, we salute one and all, including: Laurel Roberts and attorney Dennis Morgan (today); Cranmore General Manager and President Ben Wilcox and Bruins fan Ellen Belcastro (5-2); artistically talented sister-in-law Sarah W. Eastman (a big one, but we’re not saying which milestone it is), friend Susie Hall-Kennett, ski coach Craig Niiler and golf-loving community volunteer Kathleen Sweeney (5-4); Jan Sanborn (5-5); Ski NH’s Kathleen Harrigan and Little Field Farm’s Marylou Dow (5-6); Realtor Steven Steiner, artist Tricia Davison and Jason Densmore (4-7); and all others.

SCB AT TUCKERMAN BREWING: A highlight of the weekend locally is outdoor music at Tuckerman Brewing Co. The Lazy River Band performs today, and Sunday marks the return of the Simon Crawford Band, both playing from 3-6 p.m. We stopped by last Saturday to see the spirited Rek-lis performing before a big crowd outdoors. The music and 70-degree temps gave a lift to one and all in these still pandemic but hopefully brightening days. Echoing the sentiment of President Joe Biden and Gov. Chris Sununu, if you have not yet gotten a vaccine, please do!

ON A FINAL NOTE, weren't we Pats fans all happy to see the Patriots select Alabama QB Mac Jones in Wednesday night’s first round of the NFL Draft as pick 15? Gives you hope.

And, in other sports news, be sure to don your flowered straw hat and have a mint julep to watch today’s 147th renewal of “the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” with the running of the 2021 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs with post time on NBC at 6:57 p.m. And, they’re off!

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