Mud season will be back

Editor's note: It wasn't that long ago, when Tina wrote this piece, that it appeared mud season had arrived early. Naturally, as soon as we decided to run this column this week, it snowed two feet. But that snow must eventually melt, and when it does, the mud will surely return.

By Tina Weikert

Mud everywhere; caked up to the knees just by walking to the barn for morning chores. In the cooler patches of the yard it is frosty and hard rippled. On the warmed dirt paths it is tacky, deep and brown. The sun is up, but does not reach all corners of the town this time of year. People drive to work in its bright light and think of how to remove dirt stains from pants.

A tractor loaded with hay shoves off from the barn and crosses the lane. It does not impact the work of the transportation crew shoveling gravel into potholes further down the road. Overhead, a V of geese in the clouds and lower, a hungry hawk follows the clear line of Route 7 where many muddy tire tracks run parallel

to each other.

The sugar shack blooms the first seasonal puffs of sweet smoke. They hang low and thick over the lot signaling to trucks loaded with barrels of sap. Truck after truck with browned mud flaps park in the lot and the energetic syrupers get to work, undeterred by the rain that has started to fall.

Jays in the pine branches clear the ice from their throats and call loudly from the trees. Their feathers are tinged with the final drops of rain and vibrant with blue as the sun begins again to highlight. Its heat steams the road so that while still cool in the hollows, by midday the scattered balsams will warm enough to tease the senses of those standing near the forest's spread. Workers driving by on lunch break with windows cracked open will smell the air and smile, briefly forgetting the mud-stained knees. A few snowflakes drift by and the rain fully stops.

Cloistered deep in the snow-dusted meadow the unseen cows are unmistakably smelled by a dog being walked. It is a welcome smell that joins the welcome sound of the swollen brook pouring off the meadow. All around the land March melt waters rumble through pouring off the mountains and running strong in cascade bursts through snow covered creeks. The waters push and shove their way down Stratton and Bromley and Magic, Equinox and Myrick. They roughhouse with the trees they pass and meet up with the wind when it's done sailing the hawks. The road crew finishes up the potholes and moves on to clearing fallen trees.

Afterwards the weather becomes perfect. School children with their open jackets flapping run to waiting cars in the pick-up line. Late-day runners follow the older mud tracks on the roads that were not washed away by the passing rain, or the newer ones as the syrupers return home. Everyone begins to return home for the night and on the way in to the houses long buried items poke through the melted snow and are noticed, retrieved, and brought inside.

By 4 p.m., the sky is covered in equal parts snow and rain and the children are protectively called in before the storm clouds fully blow away. At dusk they do and the chromagraphic layering of purple, blue, pink and cream on the mountains begins. Soups and stews are prepared for dinners and the birds settle into their roosts.

At the houses evening chores begin. The yards lay cold. Mud slicks have frozen over; dangerous hard furrows along icy paths. Once safely inside, pants with stains now faded to a dull tan are tossed into washers. Suppers are eaten and the many movements towards bedtime are accomplished as the day closes. People rest.

Tomorrow, New England will once again toy with it's entry into mud season. The people will be ready.

Tina Weikert lives in Bondville.


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