Saturday, April 12, 2008


Low: 32° F
High: 43° F
Conditions: Persistent rain and wind.
The year’s first clap of thunder arrived just after 6:00 this morning. The caninaturalist, uncharacteristically still at this time of day, raised her head and stared hard out the bedroom window. Greg and I followed her gaze, listening as the accompanying rain struck our roof and exterior walls. That's odd, we thought. Liquid moisture falling from the sky. How peculiar.

This storm brought with it hope that we might begin experiencing the kind of April so many of our Southern friends are enjoying: one without the ubiquitous snow and ice; one that might signal the start of spring.

But to get there, we have to first endure Maine’s famous fifth season. And this rain and thunder was all the proof we needed: Mud Season has officially arrived.

All this past week, Ari and I suspected we were about to turn this corner. There were little clues, like an increased appearance of paw prints on our slate floor or the dusty dog-shaped brown halo on our quilt. Or the ankle-deep gunk that swallowed my hiking book each time I stepped off our porch.

Good indicators, all of these. And—perhaps more importantly—all the permission we needed to start grumbling.

Since time immemorial (or at least the last 40,000 years), Mainers have blamed the glaciers for this mucky mess. It certainly seems like a logical assignment of blame: after all, the massive ice flows are notorious for pulling off entire sheets of topsoil and rock and leaving tiny microorganisms in their place. (Perhaps this is what Ari is reenacting each time she unmakes our bed?)

Lately, though, scientific anthropologists have been exonerating the glaciers—at least as the lone criminals in this geographic assault. Through their study—or even just their daily travels from home to wherever scientific anthropologists go during their waking hours—these scholars have noticed something: mud appears where people are. No us; no mud.

Ari and I were intrigued by this hypothesis. Could it be that the same mud I bemoan every year is actually my fault?

We set out to find proof for this theory. Here’s what we discovered:

Mud throughout our driveway.

No mud in the surrounding field.
Mud engulfing this telephone pole.

No mud around the pole in its natural form.

Not exactly scientific proof, but pretty darn persuasive. Could the very mud I bemoan really be my creation—or at least my civilization's? It certainly seems so.

I could have sworn Ari scowled at me as soon as we reached this conclusion, perhaps as if to say, this is YOUR species' problem, not mine. I don’t blame her, though I think she might want to think twice before getting too resentful.

It might seem like something of a stretch, but I think you can draw some fairly compelling comparisons between mud and domestic dogs. After all, our transition to fixed, agrarian societies ultimately created both. Mud exists because we tilled the land, set up houses and barns, established roads and dumps. Domestic dogs exist for the same reasons.

Of course, we didn’t plan on a mud season—and we certainly didn’t willingly encourage it. But some historians say the same thing about early dogs. And both have flourished—at least in volume—during the development of our civilization. The only real difference is that we’ve chosen to embrace one and complain about the other.

Does this realization make mud season a little easier to accept? Maybe. But I still wish the caninaturalist would leave this new colleague of hers somewhere well away from my bed.


Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

Interesting findings. Ari, to punish your humans, you should roll around in the mud then run in the house and roll around in their bed. :-)


Gus and Louie said...

That is pretty interesting. But we agree the humans made it so they have to put up with it in their beds... hehe

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

Lorenza said...

Conclusions?? Viva the mud!! I love mud but we don't have that much here! Ari.... enjoy yours! And print your paws on the bed!
Kisses and hugs

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

I knew it would find woo eventually!

New England is famous fur THAT extra season - it helps balance out what Arizona has - 3 days of NOT summer and 362 of SUMMER!!

I think mud is good fur the khomplexion so be sure to share THAT with the bi-peds!!!


umekotyan said...

As for the world of mud, it thinks of the depth of the history from the glacial epoch.
It intercepts it from the sun light of the earth from the collision of the movement of the rotation axis and the planetoid to the earth there.
And, the upheaval from the sea by diastrophism is recalled.
Moreover, I feel the length of the process from the life generation as for the character of the shell.
And, the world and the talk of my favorite heavenly body extend.
It is wonderful, and it in the adventure on the weekend the world of learning.
Please enjoy a wonderful weekend. :)

from loved ume tyan

Holly said...

My humans hate mud season too. We think it's fun, but for some reason they just aren't too happy with our joy in digging in the wet gooey stuff.


John Theberge said...

It seems as though we may be a little ahead of you here in Lewiston as far as the drying goes. My mud driveway turned back to gravel earlier this week. I enjoyed reading your observations. My driveway was muddy, but just a few feet away where I did not drive or walk on the lawn; no mud.

YourFireAnt said...

Here in Snowstorm City, we cannot say ANYthing so clearcut as that a trait or season is "over" (or begun) during the months of March and April. Or some of May either. Because as soon as we do, Mother Nature comes along and makes fools of us.



JB's Big World said...

I bet Ari just loves all the mud! My mom hates it when mud or dirt gets in our house.

Eve said...

I seem to notice my little white dog has had a brown tint to her lately too. But today that mud is a bit crusty with ice!! :-(

Island Rambles Blog said...

Hi Kathryn. In the far north here we just called this season "break-up time". Luckily I live on the sunny coast where it is around 75 degrees and no mud. (In the rainy season, as I live in a rain forest...we have lots of natural mud..mud is nice Ari..)

Blue said...

Yuk mud!
I remember it well from my time on the farm in Saskatchewan...

Have a good week!

Best wishes, pats & pets

Sandpiper said...

Great post and very interesting observations! We skipped mud this year, so I wasn't able to conduct any studies. :)

Kathiesbirds said...

Kathryn, tell Ari I cracked up laughing at this post! Tell her also that when you have humans without rain you get dust! I wrote about the smell of dust today and linked to your post about the smell of snow. I think snow smells better, but this dry dusty world is a bit warmer and I don't have to shovel it!

Kapp pack said...

It seems we are on the same wavelength this weekend with the mud! I'm finally allowed to sleep on the bed!

Puppy slurps, Canyon

Simba said...

Mud, I love mud. Bet you got your paws washed when you got home.

Simba x

The Daily Echo said...

Mud! It's almost as wonderful as snow - which we certainly haven't seen very much of around here. Mud was much more fun when we had the white kitchen floor. Mom had that replaced with a mud colored floor. She's no fun.

Marigold said...

Well, I have to offer this insight. In the case of the non-frou-frou farm dog, Cabra, mud is appears by the time she finishes digging holes all over the farm which previously only exhibited grass. And of course said newly created mud has a habit of coming into the house stuck in her hair. So, my caprine observation skills say at least some dogs contribute.