Ode to Mud
It's mud season again!
I read somewhere that the Ancient Egyptians revered mud for its life-giving properties. Mud, the primordial life-giving ooze, a mixture of dirt and water, two ingredients that when mixed sprout seeds into being. I needed this reframe in the last few weeks because my relationship with mud has been nothing but antagonistic.
Oh mud, how you bring stress into my life! Oh, my sweet cushy mushy earth beneath my feet that sucks me in and pulls me deeper! Mud is everywhere. It's mud season again; it's snowing a lot and then the snow is melting into giant wet puddles of mud. The clay earth on the Mesa does not absorb water readily but keeps it on the surface. This is probably helpful for plants and animals. But for me, it’s just mud. Mud like I've never seen before in all my days. Mesa mud. This means that I cannot get my car in and out of the driveway. I drive a trusty old Subaru that I love, but these last couple of weeks I've been really considering that I might need a truck. I am barely making it down the driveway. My tires are spinning, spitting up globs of mud onto my windshield.
Going to town with my car glittered with mud makes me feel very rustic and cool. I compare my car to other cars to see who has more mud and therefore who is cooler. My mud car is a sign of my achievement of just getting out of the house today. Look at me, I made it out of the house today! Look at this incredible feat of my being! If you haven't figured it out by now, I love to feel rugged. I think it's because I grew up in the suburbs, living a very luxurious life of concrete with very little mud.
My husband was out of town all week. He took his truck with him, and I had to transport my child to school and myself to work. Every day, I was overcome with anxiety. Will I or won't I make it down our driveway? I never knew most of the time. Plenty of times I just went for it and cheered my car on with a little tough love, pushing it to move with my mental facilities and envisioning myself back in front of my house safely unstuck. There is no friction to help my car move down the driveway. Inevitably I fall into the ruts that I keep carving deeper and deeper until at some point my car can't avoid the ruts. Then we're being pulled by these deep channels that make it even more difficult to get traction and the vicious cycle continues.
Sometimes, I didn’t have the faith in my old Subaru to make it home and so I parked at the end of the driveway in the middle of the road instead, which is gravel so it doesn't get muddy fortunately. It's probably about an eighth of a mile down our drive to that road. I park my car at the end, and I keep mud boots on hand for me and my daughter. Then we trudge back to the house. We don't walk the driveway back to the house because it would eat our boots. The mud loves to consume. It is a consumer of boots and paws and tires. So, we walk around the drive, trying to land our feet onto sagebrush roots or minuscule snow piles, anything to keep our feet afloat. But of course, in between these steps, we're falling into the mud and dragging our feet out. It's actually good exercise, probably working the glutes pretty well as we try to save our boots from tragically sinking into the depths of the topsoil.
We wait until morning when the mud freezes, which is the beauty of winter. Early in the morning we can retrieve the car from the end of the driveway. If we managed to get the car home the day before, then we leave the house early and drive on top of the frozen mud avoiding the deep furrows that have now been engraved into the drive. The only problem with that is when we come home, how do we get back down the driveway? Again, maybe we park at the end or maybe just go for it.
The other problem with mud is walking. I can't go for walks. If I go for a walk, I must leave early in the morning when it's frigid out and bundle up to go. That doesn't happen very often. Today I went out seeking a less muddy trail and I found one, but less muddy is relative. I am still trudging in the mud however I don't have to worry about an in-depth boot recovery. My poor dog’s paws or spreading mercilessly with mud between her toes. She seems to be game for the walk anyway. My boots are now carrying a boot’s weight worth of mud of their own. The soles of the boots look like they have a second sole, a platform of mud. I'm a couple inches taller.
The crows are squawking at me. They're saying, look at that crazy woman with the giant Sasquatch mud feet.
One of the things I like about winter here is that it's super sunny and it's not super cold. There aren't sustained amounts of cold frigid days like there are up north. I like that, but it makes for a strange kind of winter, a sort of transitional winter. It's not quite wintry, but it's still a kind of winter, a winter of mud. How much snow did Taos used to get? A hundred years ago, did they get enough snow that the snow stayed cold and frozen on the ground or did the temperatures always go up enough to melt the snow? I’m currently reading “Winter in Taos” by Mabel Dodge Lujan, and the way she describes it in the 1920s, they were hunkered under a quilt of snow for months at a time.
I'd like to end this on an uplifting note like I usually do, some wonderful great thing I can appreciate about mud, but I'll be honest with you, there's not a lot to appreciate about mud. Mud in the summer, maybe, for mud sliding or mud masks, or squishing between toes, but not cold mud. I'm trying hard here to find something good about mud but right now I feel like a stick in the mud. That's a good euphemism.
All right here's to hoping it snows more and here's to hoping it doesn't snow again.
No, I won't leave it at that, the lesson in the mud is that sometimes things are kind of hard and don't have some great purpose or meaning, sometimes they're just mud and you must find the humor in it because really mud is comical. It's just so much to laugh about with mud-- losing your boot, getting stuck, not being able to get down the driveway. I can either be stressed out and miserable or I could just laugh at how ridiculous it is. I’m learning to laugh.
Wonderful read, Johanna! Surely miss Taos and NM. Hope to get out West this year. Stay safe, motivated, and excellent, and keep writing!
Heres to mud in your eye.🤣