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Yates: Muddling Through

The Yates boys explore the puddles of Mud Season.

We’re not the only state to claim our own fifth season. Here it’s Mud Season. In Alaska, the big melt is called Spring Break Up. But whatever the name, this transition from winter to spring signals a reconnecting to the land. For me, playing outside is a key mud season memory as the weather got warmer, daylight felt longer, and my parents seemed to accept that we were going to get dirty. Worn down from the long winter of zippers, velcro, and searching for elusive missing gloves, we were free to wander outdoors in whatever clothing we could get ourselves into on our own - provided temperatures hovered around 40 degrees.

I’m pretty sure my parents were just as amused by the mud as we were, since there are many family photos of us playing outside, completely covered in mud. In a few, we were even barefoot, with mud deep between our toes.

Our parents did try to keep us from marching through mud puddles before school – an effort I sympathize with now that I’m a mother myself. But over the next few weeks, as Mud Season slowly seeps into our everyday life, I know I’ll eventually lose my resistance.

There’s a sweet surrender in letting my guard down and allowing my kids to see what happens when they step directly into the middle of a puddle. Eyes gleaming, they’ll marvel when the water splashes over their boots, surprising them every time as drops of water and dirt land on clothes and faces.

With this return to the earth, maple trees also come back into focus. Sugaring is a sweet side of mud season that helps us get through through these slippery, messy weeks. The simplicity of pure Vermont maple syrup made from sap, heat, and the physical effort of neighbors is a great gift from our land.

So while our roads - and life in general - might be a little rougher, bumpier, and unpredictable for a while, I'm glad my kids can see the simple joy in it.

In fact, with just a little care, daily attention to temperature, and buckets of sweet maple sap, Mud Season is nothing short of transformative.

Amanda Yates is the Associate Principal of the Richmond Middle School in Hanover, NH, and a facilitator of the Upper Valley Restorative Practices Group. She has spent most of her career in Education in the Upper Valley.
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