I have a love-hate relationship with mud. Mud is a sign of spring, of warmer weather and the coming greening of the woods around my house.
When I’m wearing work clothes and mud boots, I love splashing through puddles. I enjoy clearing deadfall out of the creek by our house each spring, sometimes sinking ankle deep in mud. It makes me feel like a little kid again.
I have wonderful memories of being bundled up in warm clothes and a rain jacket, working to get the water flowing in the ditch in front of my parent’s house on County Road 7. My sister and I must have spent hours there, stomping to make a path through the ice, digging trenches with sticks, breaking mini log jams to get the water running again. It was always a blast when we successfully undammed a spot and the rushing water would nearly knock us off our feet.
I love that my grandkids enjoy it too. They like to join my husband Chuck and me when we are clearing the creek. The kids are adorable in their funky little mud boots.
I also enjoy mud when I head out on forest roads and trails on my all-terrain vehicle (ATV) for the first spring ride. The first rides are the muddiest as there are always puddles to go zipping through. Even if you try to go slow—which I’ll admit I don’t—you are going to get muddy. I don’t mind. If I get a little mud in my hair or on my face, it’s like getting a facial at a fancy spa. A big, open-air spa under bright blue skies.
I even have some clothing that declares my enthusiasm for mud. My favorite hoodie is from the Off-Road Vixen company and it declares, “Girls Get Dirty Too.”
The back of my Cook County ATV Club T-shirt declares, “Kids of All Ages Like to Play in the Dirt.”
Fun in the mud? The Tofte Trek 10K is a muddy hike. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve done it, but it’s been at least five times. Chuck did the Tofte Trek 10K with me a couple of years — here we are in 2009. That was a hot, muddy, Tofte Trek.
I like to wear that ATV Club T-shirt when I do the Tofte Trek 10K on the 4th of July. The walkers get to start first and I’m a walker. So as the runners catch up and jog past, they read the sentiment on the back of my shirt. Sloshing through the shoe-stealing mud holes, many of them chuckle. Tofte Trekkers definitely like to play in the dirt.
However, I also despise mud.
For example, I dislike that my driveway gets soft and rutted in the spring. I try driving a different path every time I go up and down the drive to prevent ruts, but it doesn’t help. Every spring I look forward to the day that the driveway finally firms up.
It also annoys me that the muddy driveway turns my lovely silver car a dirty, streaky brown. I like mud on my mud boots or my four-wheeler tires or even on me—but not on my Kia Sorento!
Parking and entering my house is difficult in mud season. Every time I get close to my house, I face a dilemma. Where to park? What looks drier? The slanted ground at west end of the house? Or the flat area by the basement door?
Inevitably I choose wrong and I step out of my now-dirty car only to sink several inches into the mud in my good shoes. If I have to get something out of the car—again, inevitably—I brush up against the car and get mud on my clean pants or shirt.
Luckily this year the mud in my front and side yard is not too bad. The snow seems to be melting at a reasonable rate and we haven’t had too much rain. There are years when I’ve dragged pieces of wood and placed them between the car and the house, making a path to avoid the mud, like an old-fashioned corduroy road.
I haven’t been driven to that extreme this year. But the mud inside my house is driving me to distraction. The same mud that is so enjoyable when I have my mud boots on becomes an irritant and an eyesore when it is brought inside by my two wonderful dogs.
Although it doesn’t seem as muddy in my yard this year, the dogs somehow can find mud in which to wallow. They are good dogs and they are almost trained to sit at the door while I wipe them down. But there is only so much a towel can do for a mud embedded dog’s foot. No matter how well I think I’ve cleaned them up, when they walk across my white linoleum floor, they leave a trail of dog prints.
And as soon as they dry off, they want to go outside again.
It’s all a matter of perspective. For the dogs, every day is a day to enjoy mud season. I’ll try to remember that they are just having fun as I walk through the house wiping up puppy prints. I’ll try not to be jealous!
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.