It’s mud season here in the Northeast Kingdom. Barely spring, but definitely mud season: something we’re only peripherally aware of at home in Concord, New Hampshire.
Awakening this slumbering landscape from its deep winter freeze and melting off a solid two- to three-foot blanket of snow does not happen without moving a lot of water. The saturated gurgles audibly from all directions, trickling and gushing, tiny rivulets converging into streams and pouring on down into creeks and rivers. Water, everywhere.
I learned something new about mud: It comes, in part, from the frost coming up out of the ground in the spring. A neighbor (more on how I met him, in a minute) commented that the frost here is still coming out of the ground. Ground which, to my eyes, seems plenty thawed.
Mud has a lot to teach, it seems.
I’ve discovered a new, irrational fear—the fear of getting stuck, sucked in, mired in the muck with no way out. Specifically, getting my vehicle stuck. The fear of spinning my tiny city tires around and around, sinking deeper into helplessness. I now eye suspiciously even the wide, relatively smooth dirt roads that I usually love to wander, imagining hidden patches of squishiness waiting to suck me in. The roads can’t be trusted, so I don’t wander far from what I know well.
This is not so irrational a fear, really. Within a couple of hours of my arrival here three days ago, I got stuck two times. Stuck. Right in the driveway, on flat ground.
Twice stepping out to sink up to my ankles in mud. Twice requiring the cheerful help of neighbors with pickup trucks and chains. Twice chatting and hearing mud season stories from people who know mud and have learned to take mud season in stride. In their mud boots, that is.
Twice living through it to realize that getting stuck isn’t the worst thing that could happen. In fact, I realized a few benefits.
I learned the peculiarly strange way my car needs to be towed, using a hefty screw-eye that screws into a mysterious little hidden hole in the front bumper. That’s about as far as my owner’s manual took me, without the assistance of a big truck and a friendly guy from down the road.
I’d trusted this car for 50,000 miles to move me where I needed to go, but I’d never given a thought to how I might move it, should it need my help. The comfort (disengagement) that comes with living in even a small city seems to have caused my vehicle-related problem-solving skills to atrophy.
Leaving the comfort zone of my home, and the myriad of services available to call (for those willing to pay) has apparently honed my skill of being able to ask for help, and that’s not such a bad thing.
Here, instead of calling a tow truck and paying $85, you call a neighbor with a chain and a few stories. I like that better.
Who knew that mud draws people together and builds community?