Low: 32° FThe 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.
High: 43° F
Conditions: Persistent rain and wind.
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.