Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mud Time

The water for which we may have to look
In summer with a witching-wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

Two Tramps in Mud Time; Robert Frost


The snow lies in scattered, broken patches, holding on as if hoping that another blast of winter will come and stop its migration to mud. In between the snow patches are the puddles. At night they freeze up, but it doesn't take much warmth to dissolve the ice.

The cat walks as if he's walking on broken glass. He doesn't stay outside more than 10 minutes, even though it's not cold. He hasn't yet learned to tolerate wet paws. I stump around with great clumps of mud hanging off my shoes. You'd think gravel wouldn't make a good mud, but it has excellent adhesion and more comes in the door than I am prepared to welcome.

Mat count has reached four. A rubber-backed felty thing started out as the principal mat, laid outside the door, but soon sank beneath the responsibility. A black rubber thing was put on top of the grey felty one. The black rubber has lots of intersecting rings, to scrape the shoe soles on. Both disappeared beneath the snow for weeks.

Mat three is ugly and brown, rubber backed, lying inside the door. A drip-catcher, foot stomper mat, bought because it was small enough to fit in the entrance without folding, stapling or mutilating.

Mat four is a ridiculous thing I bought in a moment of nostalgic insanity because we had one like it when I was a small child. It's pale blue and has heavy twists of cotton cording looped into the backing. It shows every spot and while it's washable it takes an hour ($4.00 worth of quarters) to damp dry in the big commercial dryer at the laundromat. It lays beyond mat three, to catch more drips. I've given up on keeping it spot-free and will not wash the dam thing again until summer, when I can hang it on the line, or lay it on the picnic table, to dry.

Despite the sloppy conditions and general muckiness, this is the way the earth forces winter out of its den. Flood it out so spring can move in and coax every living thing awake. Mud time is a time for celebration. When mud time comes spring is never more than a short step behind.

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