Mud, My Love Story

Mud: An Immersion in Love
Dear Mud,
            I know it’s been a while, but I spent time with you again last week and I’m reflecting again on why I love you so much.  Call it a yearning to relive the joys of childhood, or living in the moment, but whatever it is, Mud, you bring me joy. 
            Mud, why do I love thee?  It’s simple.  Not only are you cheap and readily available, but you are a creative outlet for when I’m thoughtful and lazy, and a crucial aspect of my productive phases. I love your soft, squishy, smooth, and silky undulation that seeps, fills, covers, and exudes happiness. You are malleable and forgiving, but you have the ability to dry strong and inflexible, an amalgamation of joy.  While your contents aren’t particularly exciting, somehow mixing dirt and water creates a bliss that is so soothing and peaceful—so creative and simple. You are an integral part of my world.
            Mud, I’m not alone—the gourmet world also holds fixation with you.  Mud baths, mud massages, and aromatic mud facials profess therapeutic benefits.  Yes, even Mud is loved gastronomically;  Mississippi Mud is sold on the counter in filling-stations in the South, waiting to be fried up and consumed. My grand-babies, Isa and Zina will be the first to attest that mud tastes good.  People love hot mud, cold mud, and I have no doubt that somebody, somewhere finds you, Mud, sexy. 
            Is all of this reason enough for my mud mania?  Does all this external validation somehow make my love of mud more rational and acceptable? 
            No.  For despite the fact that everyone loves mud at some point in their lives, many have given in to society’s mores and the love of mud has been cleaned out of them. Mud has become a dirty word that, like most good things, research has deemed unsafe. The newest news is that, “…mud is unclean and harbors disease, so glove up.”
            Where has the love for Mud gone? We’ve landscaped and sodded, and there is no longer a corner left in our lives for the exploring a relationship with mud.  We’ve shielded our children with clothing more valuable than discovering the cleansing lessons of filth and prevented ourselves from experiencing yet another basic joy. Heaven forbid…a soiled child!
            Mud, perhaps part of the disdain is the mess that accompanies a relationship with you.  But, deep down we’re all a mess--one gigantic, cloying mess and to admit that and to accept it is hard.  Being vulnerable to feeling messy in exchange for feeling joy is one of life’s great challenges.  What if we were more like children who embrace joy and shrug off messes—both mud and mistakes—simply because messes can always be cleaned up? 
            Mud, you complete me.  I love you most of all because my life is full of messes.  Big ones!  This, from my journal in the spring of 1990: “Today the six-month-old sat by—and then inside—the mud hole with her Daddy while he dug for the broken waterline. Two feet deep, then three, five and then deeper, but eventually success! They discovered the source of the mud!  But, the two of them were eight feet under and over their heads.
            Sometimes my messes are intentional.  From the first to the last, each of my children have been introduced to mud, due to some new mistake (project) I've begun.  My last child wallowed in mud for months as I worked on a new front driveway.  Learning to love mud was the way I embraced the inconvenience of my mess and the joy in the vision of completion.    
            It’s my opinion that each of us should make space in our lives for messes and for clean-up--like an active mudroom.  In lieu of that, my happy place in every home would be a room being actively mudded—in constant repair from some big mess.  Breaking down the bad and progressing to something better is sublime happiness to me. 
             The children at my house have created a puddle in the corner near the back fence, in the shade of an umbrella tree, and they’re feeding it. They call it the muck pit. They beg peelings and cores, and add holly berries, grass clippings and select leaves for garnish. The household silverware is slowly disappearing into its endless depths. When it thirsts, the water pitcher disappears too. They delight in it and so do I.
            Because life is a mess, and it washes. 
Terina Darcey


...bespattered bliss

Once I advised the next-door neighbor child to always seek fun in his chores.

His mom responded, “Sometimes work isn’t fun.” 

I was taken aback! If I can’t make work fun, I stop doing it. I learned early on that work had to be a game. I remember when I took one sunny afternoon to move all bricks in the backyard to make a yellow brick road leading to Oz. When Dad made me put them all back, that was a week-long tear-filled drudge.

Then I learned that work must be fun!

I have to find ways to stave off the boredom in life’s drudgery or I’d be tempted to abandon my toys and go home. I dance with the vacuum, reward bathroom cleaning with M&M’s and after reading about Babe Dedrickson, I strap scrub brushes to my feet.

I challenge my imagination to make work fun and have been doing it for so long—this manipulation of my mind—that it doesn’t have much basis left in reality. I can jaunt off pretty much anywhere and find entertainment in most anything.  

The world today utilizes mud as an integral part of creation and repair. Mud acts as glue, mastic, slurry, and mortar, so it’s easy to look really busy while playing with mud. Could this be the reason for my mud mania?

Dear Journal, Today my fun is mud, wallowing in it with both arms up to the elbows. Blobs have dropped on my feet and are smeared across my chin. My lashes are gray with dust and the white powder inside my nose is not drug induced. Neither is the supreme happiness I get from immersing myself in mud. It’s primitive, simplistic and serenely joyful. Go figure, 

Although I love all kinds of mud, I have a particular fondness for gypsum.  [2] Gypsum has superior qualities.  I prefer its smoothness; no lumps, bumps, no rocks or foreign objects.  Unidentified objects in mud can be potentially disgusting, and although I like intrigue, challenge and unpredictability in most things, I don't like it in my mud.  Why does it make me so happy?  

Why do I spend so much of my time in the mud? Is it a benefit of the wisdom of age—appreciating the here and now—being in the moment—searching for and enjoying the simple things in life?

Nope, it’s even simpler than that. I’m learning like a child the importance of consequences.  I am making myself fix everything I break! And, it’s convenient to use mud to repair my mistakes.

Dear Journal 2002, This season, I'm using mud to repair the neighbor's house.  The four-year old thinks we're fixing it because Mommy broke it.  He doesn't understand that we go there to prevent my starting another project and causing more damage to our own house.  Assuaged only momentarily, T.

As it dries, and things tighten up, I’m a little uncomfortable, but I look at myself in the mirror and see a face split wide open in a smile, and the laugh lines deepening with the pure delight of mud. 

Reality Bite:   Mud facials... is this what they meant?