Although winter has mostly forgotten about us, it has left some of the white stuff on the ground. There was enough of it for the kids to get in at least a few weekends of sleigh riding. The temperatures never really bottomed out and so the winter could be called mild. The days of numbing cold and shiver-inducing winds could be counted on one hand, a rarity. The snowmobile remained in hibernation to sleep until next year, hopefully. It was still a winter, but a tame one.
And so, as March hardly roars, the in-between season comes early. It is a season of cold nights and warming days. It is not uncommon to still find 20's at night and 50's as the sun tries to melt the gray skies away. The little snow there is melts into the ground and when precipitation is in the forecast, rain begins to dominate. The ground becomes overwhelmed with moisture. Water seeps from the earth everywhere. The areas of snowy crust hide the mire beneath. Mud Season has come to our mountain.
Grandmothers and mothers dread it's coming. Grandfathers just grin. Fathers can not wait to be a kid again. And the kids are more excited now than a school snow day. The ATVs spin and slide and throw brown confetti. Clothes are spotted and soaked through with chocolate milk. Exposed skin is treated to extremely expensive spa packages, applied with rubber and acceleration. Hair is clumped and matted. And the tub does not look forward to the ring that is surely coming. The snow sleds gain a few more days of sunshine before be put away, but beneath them snowy white gives way to reddish-brown goodness. It is Mud Season.
I love Mud Season. I carry an axe and shovel on the roof of the family SUV to deal with the rutted roads and fallen trees. I carve through the trails on the quads, splashing through the puddles, smiling all the way. Getting stuck, be it truck, ATV, sled, or by foot if one is lucky enough to find a mud puddle deep enough, is not only a rite of passage but a goal to constantly strive for. There is something liberating, something refreshing, about the flinging of mud patties. It is almost as if youth can be recaptured within the short period before Spring and the warmer planting season takes hold. To be a kid again, and not held in check by the constraints of wiser adulthood. To not care about the washing machine or the stained clothes or the potatoes growing beneath dirty fingernails. To play in the dirt.
Maybe more people should try playing in the mud more often, the world would be a happier place. And definitely a lot less up tight, if only for the brief in-between season.