I gave up my book and my health to the month of August, to my sister’s wedding, to my roots rising up from the sea and arriving in the mountains, en masse, consuming me, until I’d forgotten why I’d left home, who I ever was without them, and where I’d been heading.
It’s been more than 3 weeks since they’ve retreated, and still I am combing bits and pieces out of my hair, like seaweed, after a late August swim.
I loved it as a kid. Not to eat. Never. To lift up from where it had been drying in the sun and the sand and press between finger and thumb.
Too wet and it would squish.
Too dry and it would crumble.
Just right and it would, POP!
What seaweed remains on me has long gone brittle
or is so mushy as to be unworthy of an attempt at popping.
I could complain about the weather, beautiful from the depths of my feverish days on the couch, and now that I’m standing again, dark and dreary and so cold.
But there’s Houston. And friends with cancer. And the White House. So what does my weather matter.
Still, it’s Tuesday, the last Tuesday before school steals summer, so there are cookies at the Farm Stand up the road.
“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