An Ode to Mud




Dirt is not a glamorous substance. And when the snow melts and that dirt turns to mud, its lack of charm becomes so legendary that, here in New Hampshire, it has an entire season named after it. But like all humble stuff, there’s more to mud than meets the eye.

First of all, as any little kid with a bucket or any big kid with a 4WD truck will tell you, mud can be a lot of fun. But on a practical level, mud is just dirt doing its job, i.e. holding onto water long enough to filter it on its merry way to the aquifers and to keep it all from flooding the rivers and streams at the same time

Granite Staters are good at making the most of whatever nature throws at ‘em, so during Mud Season you can usually find special deals on rooms and meals in the North Country where businesses roll out the brown carpet for visitors (www.mtwashingtonvalley.org). It may not be perfect weather for hiking, but no sense making a mountain out of a mud hill.

New Hampshire, by they way, has some of the country’s finest dirt performing those lowly but essential environmental tasks. Back in 1939, the gold standard of dirt was established in a “soil profile” of the land in the town of Marlow, right here in the Granite State’s own Cheshire County. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service explains that Marlow’s “broad, gently sloping hillsides and summits of loamy drumlins provide some of the most productive soils for farmers and foresters in the harsh granitic landscapes of New Hampshire.” So sweet is it, that “Marlow soil” is synonymous with this kind of glacially produced farmland and it’s considered as our official state dirt by the USDA.

Still, I’m sure that when it’s wet, and you’ve got to get something through it, either boots or wheels, it’s just plain old mud to the citizens of Marlow.

I’ve noticed that when Mud Season rolls around each year, my brain is going through a similar process as the local soil, only it’s not water that’s getting filtered and sequestered — it’s information.

Every year at this time, we’ve just gotten through the holidays (including Valentine’s Day) and helped host the New Hampshire Theatre Awards and we’ve started collecting votes from our Top Doctors poll. Our ballot for the Best of NH is online (www.bestofnh.com) and appears in the March issue (tucked between pages 72 and 73).

Meanwhile, we’ve begun looking for candidates for our Remarkable Women issue in May and keeping an eye out for likely prospects for our end-of-the-year It List (any suggestions?). All of this collecting and cataloging of data tends to make the brain a bit mushy and the thought process murky.

In short, Mud Season, to me at least, is not just a season, it’s a state of mind. But what looks like a mucky mess in March always tends to burst into brilliant bloom over the next few months.

In the mean time, you just try to keep your engine in low gear, your axles above the soil and enjoy the ride.

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