Trina Machacek: Hey there, Muddy!
December 30, 2018
Let's talk about mud. Goo. Slippery dirt. The stuff a little girl's pies are made out of! Yes, good, old mud. To be sure, today it's mid-winter and mud season seems so far away. Or so I thought until I went out to take a nice, cool walk recently. I encountered a bit of the slime and remembered a mud tip I've learned along my muddy path that I want to share. But, yes, a slippery "but," but first let's talk about my ole friend, mud.
It's been several years since I have lived in a place where there are sidewalks for taking walks on. I've visited friends and taken walks on sidewalks in some really nice neighborhoods. One was in the village of Riverside, a suburb of Chicago. Very nice, clean, neat and all the houses are kept up as to show what a quaint village it is. There is not one speck of a place that mud can get on your shoes! I was not comfortable with that as mud and I are old close friends.
I grew up in Reno, spending hours dipping plastic cups into mud and water in the Truckee River taking guppies home. Poor guppies that were too slow to beat my cup. Sorry about that! In our backyard and up a hill, there was a wonderful pasture and a grand tree under which dirt and rain water produced wonderful mud holes to slip and slide in — yes, like a little piggy. I feel every kid at some point needs to be a little piggy. Eatin' a little dirt keeps things in perspective.
Growing up, I married a farmer. I recently discussed this with a friend. As a young girl, I remember a group of us girls always seemed to be chasing cowboys. Very cute cowboys! How I ever ended up marrying a farmer, I will never know! Very happily I did though and my life with mud continued through like a zillion more tons of mud with muddy boots and muddy gloves and muddy tires and just muddy everything. I got to really enjoy the muddy days of the seasons.
January is just around the corner and I see already that mud is awake and ready to surface and cover the bottoms of my shoes. We seem to always have a January thaw when mud is a welcome site only because it means the depth of the snow is not up to my — well, up there!
Winter mud has a great advantage to the spring mud that is still to come in all its glorious muddiness. See, in January the ground is still frozen. So even though it is warm enough for some snow to melt, creeping away from us, the water left behind in snow's icy wake cannot soak into the earth because the ground is frozen. Kind of like trying to get a raw potato to soak up water — just isn't going to happen. So you end up with muddy puddles around which there is mud that is just waiting for you to step onto sinking down covering the tops of your boots. Well, take heart. Here's where I am going to divulge my muddy tip…
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OK, so you are walking along, tra-la, tra-la, and your pathway is beginning to get muddy. You see mud to the left and mud to the right and in the middle is the muddy water, standing, waiting to become mud. So you look at your options and decide to try what looks to be the lightest colored mud figuring you won't get those boots too mucky. As you step, you realize that even though the ground is frozen you still are going to leave your mark and come away with just a sucking sound. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Well, over my many years dealing with mud I'm here to tell you — walk in the water!
What? Walk in the water. Puddles that your mother and grandfather always told you to stay out of? Yes, walk in the water. See here's the thing. The water is more likely to be sitting on gravel. Gravel that is not mud-covered. Who would walk in mud if gravel were right next to it? Not me. I choose the gravel every time. So, when I was out on my recent walk down a dirt road and encountered mud to the left and mud to the right? I walked right down the tracks filled with water. Yes I got a little wet, come on its water. Mud was grabbing at my feet all the way and I just kept walking.
Of course, when you get to where you have to walk back to the house — well, it's not a perfect system so I had to scrape off a little mud. At least, my feet were not three sizes larger and mud caked. Or would that be mud "pied"?
Trina lives in Eureka, Nev. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!