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Molnar: Mud Season Joys

We moved to Vermont at the end of June six years ago and enjoyed every hour of the sublime summer, followed by a glorious fall and a very long white winter. After that, it was no longer beautiful. It was, in fact, devoid of any hint of loveliness – unless one was a newt whose future was tied to mud.

I had heard plenty about Vermont’s infamous mud season. But I had no clear understanding of just how long a drippy day can be, not to mention a week of such days. Nor of what it’s like driving on a dirt road that in mud season demanded skills I didn’t possess.

And yet, after the first year’s learning curve, I found myself looking forward to rain, cold and mud. Seriously.

I’m what you might call a foul-weather worker – since anything but the grimmest weather gives me multiple excuses to shun responsibilities. So for getting serious work done, mud season is a gift. Spring and summer present multiple gardening activities, not to mention the lure of swimming, biking, kayaking and just plain lying around in the warmth. I tried to do my writing assignments outdoors, and I can tell you that those ads featuring some high-achieving person perched at the edge of a cliff, laptop in lap, and a breathtaking panorama below, are patently false; computer screens just glare at you outdoors, forcing you to abandon either the outdoors or the laptop. And since I always choose to abandon the laptop, I get little writing done in spring or summer.

Fall brings even more gorgeous days. Spending time indoors while the world blazes away seems downright ungrateful for the bounty of beauty.

Winter with its short, cold days should make the indoors attractive. But here’s the catch: precisely because the days are so short, I feel compelled to take advantage of the light… to make tracks in fresh snow, to study the crisscrossing animal prints, to ski the fields and mountains. Afterwards, too tired to work, I catch up on the reading that has piled up during the previous three seasons.

Then, finally, we get a string of days when the snow is gone and the clouds hang so low that the gray earth blends into the sky… when the seed packets lined up in the kitchen are still only eye candy… when even the robins huddle out of sight, ignoring the worms in the sodden lawn… and each step to the mailbox is accompanied by disgusting sucking sounds.

On days like this, when the outdoors ceases to call, the foul-weather worker that’s me gets going. I rise early and work diligently through lunch and past dinner. So much to do before the mud dries!

So imagine my disappointment at the virtual absence of mud last year! And my cheerful expectations for a record mud season this year! Expectations that are being met… and then some!

Martha L. Molnar is a public relations and freelance writer who moved to Vermont in 2008. She was formerly a New York Times reporter.
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