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An Ode to Mud

April 19, 2012

I am grateful for mud.

When I was a little girl, my mom would drop me off at my grandmother’s house and admonish us not to get my dress dirty.  My grandmother loved two things almost as much as she loved me: Being in the garden and defying instructions.

Thus, her reaction – nay, instinct – was (as soon as my mom drove away) to say, “Let’s go make mud pies!”  She would reassure me that we would be careful and not get my dress dirty.

And so the afternoon was spent making secret mud pies with great delicacy and care.  It was the beginning of my love of mud.

As I grew, my mud play became bolder.  Swimming at the home of friends who lived on a lake, we discovered the clay mud at the bottom of the lake.  It was so invitingly squishy and thick.  It was like a SPA!  In spas, they actually pay money to put this stuff on their bodies.  Hey, we could put it on our bodies for free.  Hm…  I am quite certain her family was not delighted to see us walking up the hill from the lake, caked from head to toe with thick clay, cracking as it dried to a dusty gray – nothing but swimsuits and mud as far as the eye could see.

A few years later, my cousin and I found a similar source of gooey Pacific Northwest clay and revisited the spa idea while we were camping.  Unfortunately for us, camping showering involved getting into the icy cold, glacier-fed river with a bar of soap before we were allowed into any tent for bed.  Brr….I still feel the chill of that coldest soapy bath I have ever taken.

When you think about it, everyone has fond mud stories.  There is nothing quite as age-reducing as the muddy skid that you make playing Ultimate Frisbee in the rain, or the muddy splatter up your back when mountain biking through giant puddles, or the feeling of mud squishing between your barefoot toes.

Mud is just fun.

It must be more than just childhood tolerance for messes that attracts us to mud, though.  Mud is life.  It’s the soil that grows the healthy vegetables.  It’s the cool, safe home for frogs and worms.  It’s the fertile bed for nettles and dandelions and other nutritious weeds.  It’s the place where our veggies grow.  I am not the first to wax rhapsodic about mud’s connection to the circle of life and how mud literally contains the great thinkers from ancient history.

And while mud contains life and gives life, it is also a great metaphor for my own life right now.  Messy, but fun.  A terrific growth medium.  Often damp.

Mud for Fun

Mud for Food


5 Comments leave one →
  1. bellissimom permalink
    April 20, 2012 9:54 am

    mud is fun! I have great memories of making mud pies when I was little. Had not thought about that in a while. Thanks for bringing up a great memory!

  2. May 8, 2012 5:25 am

    Making mud pies was one of the first normal things I did as a child – thank you for making me feel like I am ten again.

  3. May 8, 2012 9:52 am

    What a delight to share the muddy memories with others! You all can be kids again anytime here. It is, I think, the best part of parenting – tapping into the child you used to be and enjoying the playful time with your kids. And folks without 10 year-olds to remind them don’t get enough space for that fun. Makes me wonder how many adult gardeners are really just reliving their childhoods!

  4. May 14, 2012 9:57 pm

    As a kid I use to shape mud into things like medals and when dry I painted them, put them onto a string and I could give those necklace to my friends. Lots of creative fun 🙂

    • May 14, 2012 10:48 pm

      Brilliant! My kids make leaf printed mud cakes that they dry. I will post a photo soon.

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