The Universe has conspired to reveal signs of spring–even to me–she who remains indoors, in spite of herself–a boycott to unseasonable weather.
For days now, I’ve watched, as the single green seat cushion–the one that we bought on clearance, and placed outside–prematurely–atop one of the four metal seats–that came with the round patio table–that we brought home from the Marlboro Community Sale–on free day–takes a tour around my yard, compliments of a wintry wind.
At first it blew to the South, near the Birch that I loved when we first cleared this land for our home, but which over the years has become a stump of itself. I worried that we’d lose our single cushion, but I didn’t go outside to retrieve it.
The next day, I noticed that it had blown into the West, just past the raised beds.
The first, second, third, fourth, fifth sixth…
Every year we added another.
We stopped at 7.
The cushion was closer now, so I could easily grab it, without too much exposure, but I left it there, in the cold, while I remained warm inside.
I’m not sure what the cushion did during the nights, whether it headed North, or over the house, but the next morning, I looked out from my bedroom to spy it near the outdoor shower, in the East, at the edge of the woods.
I left it there, until I came home that afternoon from work, and saw that it had moved closer, beside something of… color.
I dashed from my car, past the woodshed, past the tool shed, over the place where the remnants of the last snow pile left its debris, and up the stone path to the wannabee garden of perennials competing with weeds where we dug in a handful of bulbs despite our historical need for immediate gratification.
There beside the fair cushion was the COLOR PURPLE!
The first color of spring!
I ran inside for the camera, and took a tour around the land–to each of the places where the cushion led,
and then brought it inside,
“Well, LIFE is messy… it’s symbolic,” my husband proclaims in his weekly phone call to his parents–three-hundred miles away on the Jersey coast.
This is one of those times when I know the people on the other end of the line are wondering why the heck we live in a place where there is such a thing as “MUD Season.”
I’m sitting in bed with the worst head cold I’ve had in years wondering the same thing. WHY am I here? It’s April, and there are eight-foot snow drifts outside my window.
Now it’s my in-laws turn to share their weather (rub our noses in it more likely–in a not so subtle attempt to get us to move back “home.”)
“Sunny and 76 degrees on Monday.”
Seventy-six degrees… 76 degrees! The number turns over and over in my head, like the winning digits on a slot machine in Atlantic City.Immediately, I see myself packing up the car and the kids and heading south. My whole being vibrates to the possibility of pure undiluted sun–no snow, no mud, just SUN.
Then I remember that the baby is teething (all four top teeth at once) and that we both have ear infections (I didn’t even know adults could get those). My husband obviously has work, and our older son has school–even if it’s only kindergarten.
My fantasy of escaping south melts into a puddle–a big depressing puddle! I tune back into the phone call to hear my husband share OUR forecast. To their seventy six and sunny, he volleys:
“50 degrees and raining…for the NEXT couple of days!”
I slide back down under the covers, even more disgusted that I live here at this moment in time. I now completely resent Vermont for any efforts it’s making to warm up: fifty degrees is a pathetic attempt at spring-like weather in the face of seventy six. And RAIN! The snow might finally surrender, but the MUD will be consuming!
I wish I could just go to sleep till it’s all over.
“The roads are still passable,” I hear may husband offer cheerfully, in his‘Aren’t we amazingly resilient to live here’ tone .
He’s up for the challenge, like we reside permanently on one of those Survivor television programs he’s been sneaking to watch when I’m at work.
The word “passable” echoes in my ears despite my attempt to block out any thoughts to the contrary. With rain and warmer temperatures, these roads really might become “impassable” ie. I’m stuck here on the top of this muddy hill with two children and a husband who has to leave at dawn to hike to the nearest pavement.In some last ditch effort to rescue myself from total despair, I resurrect the first words I eavesdropped from this phone call:
“LIFE IS MESSY.”
I tell myself that there probably IS some symbolic meaning, some deeper purpose, in staying and facing the mess. (I’m a sucker for the “big picture” if one can be found; especially when I can’t find any cheap flights to my sister’s in Florida.) And when the boys are grown and the last dirt roads have been paved, there won’t even be mud seasons anymore.
Come to think of it, I feel we ALL have the responsibility to share these mud seasons with our children before it’s too late, before they forget what a dirt road can look like and sound like and feel like in the spring (no matter what it does to our alignments and mufflers).
Think of how many children living on paved roads in our towns and cities are deprived of the mud we take for granted in the country!
Suddenly I feel a song coming on, the one my little ‘Vermonter’ comes home from school singing every spring:
“MUD, MUD, I love Mud. I’m absolutely, positively, wild about Mud! You can’t go around it. You gotta go through it… Beautiful! Fabulous! Super Duper Mud!”
Life IS messy. Mud is messy. Will running away from it really make it any better–or is the old adage, like the song suggests, true?
“The only way around it, is through it.”
Maybe, just maybe, if I stay, and face this mess, I’ll come out the other side of this season, greener and more beautiful than I ever imagined possible; purified by the snow, stripped of illusions by its melting, and knee deep in the reality of life’s mud and beauty. (I told you I was a sucker.)
So what if I get stuck? What if I can’t get out? It doesn’t last forever. Nothing does. And if it’s really bad, the kids and I can sing that song–heck we can scream it at the top of our lungs if we have to. We can all join together and let it echo from the puddles and the ditches and the sink holes…
“MUD!, MUD!, I LOVE MUD!”
Happy Mud Season to you and yours!
from Kelly Salasin, from the top of Cow Path 40, Marlboro VT