Mud Season

posted in: Life Lessons 20

Last week we celebrated SPRING, the season of reconciliation and renewal, that time of year that brings the promise of better times to come, new life, the flowering of that which has been asleep —  life’s good stuff.

But each year, before we get fully reconciled, renewed, or reminded, we must deal with what the comedians call Vermont’s “fifth season” — Mud.

 

I never experienced mud season when I lived in the city (Newark, Cleveland, New York, or Philadelphia) — the advantage of concrete, to be sure — but up here in the country and certainly when we were in Kazakhstan, spring mud is as inevitable as winter snow.

And that winter snow eventually melts. . .

. . . and has nowhere to go because winter’s frost lies deep below ground level.

Mud is the inevitable result. Some years it might last a few weeks; occasionally, a few months.

Cars get stuck in it. Dogs get rolling in it. People get sick of it. And still it perseveres. None of our bleatings (or pleadings) make a whit of difference to The Mud.

You don’t see picture postcards from Vermont during mud season.  Autumn leaves, Winter snow trails, Springtime buds, and Summer outings, certainly.  Mud Season, not so much.

I’ve been thinking about mud as the days warm up and the ground begins to peek out beneath the snow.

For those who have yet to embrace this reminder that there is indeed a power greater than ourselves — and some days its name surely is MUD — it is the season when we can be pretty certain no one is going to drop in on us.

It’s the season when we dread warm, sunny days because we know the road will be impassable, and find ourselves wishing for COLD weather so the roads stay hard packed.

It’s the season we endure only because we can’t quite embrace it.

It’s the season that reminds us of our insufferable inability to roll with the punches.

But it’s become part of the rhythm of life up here in Vermont, just as it was  part of life for the folks in Kazakhstan, and probably has been, somewhere, for eons.

 

‘Following the long cold Ice Age, came the rarely mentioned, Sloppy Age.’

 

Each year, the Green Mountain Club implores hikers to stay away — until the danger of compaction from footsteps is past.

 

Cartoon by emily benning.

 

Mud (like muck and madness) is as much a part of this life as are the buds that inevitably bloom in the spring. Why fight it?

Why is it, I’ve been pondering, that when frustration in its various forms (mud season being only the messiest) we assume that life “should” be different?  Better,  smoother, easier.  Seems to me that attitude is the root of much of our discomfort   We want life to be different, better, saner, easier.  Life just is.

I think of Dylan Thomas, a brilliant poet.  Remember his “rage, rage against the night”?  Yes, he used “dying of the light.”  He was being poetic.  Rage against the inevitable?  No wonder he was so troubled.

No, I’m not raging against Mud Season this year.  Not that I’m welcoming it, mind you.  Just because I’m not fighting it doesn’t mean I’m enjoying it.  The “muddy middle” has never seemed so apt a metaphor.

I have special shoes just for mud season. Boots, actually; muck boots, to be specific. One pair is heavily lined for frigid temperatures, another pair is not. I start to wear them sometime in March and they stay out through April and into May (if we’re lucky; last year they lasted into June). But they go up to my knees and I can tuck my pant legs inside of them. That helps.

And so it is with other muck (or madness) in my life.

I accept that it’s simply the way things are, for now. And I find something that helps. 

I remind myself that I don’t have to like it. And, as I said earlier, I refuse to fight it.

How do you deal with the muck (and mud and madness) in your life? 

NEXT WEEK: Looking back 50 years, again.

20 Responses

  1. susan scott
    | Reply

    The lotus arises from the mud is my first thought! Great post thanks Janet!
    susan scott recently posted…Boom or BustMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Ah yes, Thich Nhat Hanh. Unfortunately, I’m in Zone 3 and we just muck around in our mud. The old silver lining/cloud thing. And here I am, trying to embrace the cloud. Thanks for dropping. I’m glad you clicked the CommentLuv thing; I’d have missed your great post from mid-month.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  2. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    It sounds like you know how to deal with the muck and mud of life, Janet–be well-prepared, then wipe your feet (hands, soul, whatever), and take off the boots.
    And know better things will come before too long.
    Merril Smith recently posted…Humpty: Egg QuadrilleMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      TAKE OFF THE BOOTS! Oh yes. That’s the critical piece these days, Merril. And these boots are made for slipping off. Too bad Sasha can’t slip hers off too.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  3. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    I’ve never heard of this fifth season before. We don’t get lots of mud here. Or at least not as a noticeable season. I’ve never heard the “muddy middle” metaphor before either. The Things I Learn! As for my answer to your question regarding muck and madness: when it comes to muck I clean it up, when it comes to madness I try to contain it!
    Ally Bean recently posted…Be The Light: Of Serious Fun & Sensible FoolsMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Ah the “muddy middle” is a metaphor I learned back when I was learning to appreciate the fallacy of black and white thinking (aka, no grayish tones). Thanks for stopping by Ally. I love your idea of “serious fun.”
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  4. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Only if you are a kid would you agree with e e cummings that in spring “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” Or so I think.

    I think of MUD in other contexts as well. Fingers-crossed, I believe I may be pulling out of the muddy middle of my memoir writing and edging toward final edits. One of my other writer friends sent out little magnetic sayings with the expression, “No mud, no lotus,” which Susan mentioned. It stay on my refrigerator as a wise reminder.

    Once again, a great collage of thoughts and pics, Janet!
    Marian Beaman recently posted…An Easter Meditation with Jonah and Carl SandburgMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Congratulations on your escape from that muddy middle of your memoir. That line surely could be used in a poem. Merril?
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  5. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Oh Janet, you’re too funny AND right on target! This muddy season is an apt metaphor for life and the only way to the other side is through. So, I’m accepting it’s all part of the plan until we can enjoy those sunny , warm spring days. But, in the meantime, I’m not liking it very much either!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      You’ve captured it, once again, Kathy. I know you know what I’m talking about. It just is, isn’t it?
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  6. Dolores Wilson
    | Reply

    Maybe Mud-Wrestling?

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      That’s funny. Hi Dolores. It’s been awhile. Nice to see you here.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  7. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I’m a mud lover. In fact, I wear a small silver disc around my neck that has the shape of a lotus laser-cut out. This, to remind me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s observation: “No mud, no lotus.”
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Cow Pies – The Smell of MoneyMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      There must be a northern Vermont version of a lotus; I’ll have to give that some thought, Laurie. I wonder what Thich Nhat Hanh would say about Cow Pies (we do have those here too; the ones I’m thinking of are quite tasty)? I guess what I’m working with here is mud without the promise or even the potential of a lotus. Thanks for telling me about your pendant. It sounds very down-to-earth and lovely.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  8. […] MUD SEASON shared by Janet […]

  9. Deborah Hunter Kells
    | Reply

    Oh- I’d gladly swap some of our coming winter with you mud & all! 🙂 I’m here in Australia and the Hills sure get cold in a few months time!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’m so glad to have a new reader from Down Under. Welcome, Deborah. In the hills? Are you near Canberra? I’ve been to Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. It’s a beautiful country and I loved the food — a bit more adventurous than I find in the states.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  10. Carol Taylor
    | Reply

    Mud, glorious mud,. Memories come flooding back when I read this of many an early Sunday morning spent in the middle of a muddy field with me hugging my clipboard and whistle whilst the horses navigated the cross country fences…My daughter competed…The things us mums do…lol

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      How great to have a (somewhat) fond memory of MUD, Carol. And welcome. I’m so glad you stopped in.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  11. […] MUD SEASON shared by Janet […]

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