I ran in to my favorite store the other day for suet cakes. The birds are returning slowly. I have had both Downy and Hairy woodpeckers at the feeder all winter but now the Mourning Doves, Cardinals and Blue Jays have returned. While I was there, I was drawn to the display of spring bulbs and shrubs. I still have piles of snow on my gardens but the bright colors attracted me like a moth to flames. Five packs of shade-loving Astillbe, and Caladiums found their way into my basket along with a box of wildflower mix. All of this is a grand illusion as we still have to get through Mud Season.
For my friends not familiar with Spring in New Hampshire, this is an actual, recognized season. As the pot holes and frost heaves begin to recede on the roads, the earth softens and all the snow-melt makes walking a shoe-sucking, boggy event. What was grit, from the sand spread on icy surfaces, will soon be muddy paw prints everywhere and a dull coating of brown sludge.The shoe-sucking doesn’t just involve humans. Many a horse will pull a shoe this spring. The mud is unavoidable on the trails and the spaces in front of every gate will be swampy from all the hooves treading through.This year my date with mud is monumental. The logging operation going on in my yard has churned up the thin topsoil and the trenches of mud could easily swallow a small automobile. Someday, it will be a lovely road to the ridge behind, but at the moment, it looks like a moat protecting my little castle.