Our fifth season after winter, spring, summer, and fall, is mud season. It starts sometime in late March and can remain until late April. It is the season of broken axles, deep ruts in the road and driveways, and a plethora of bad language. It also can provide a window into how we support each other, funny rhymes, and entertainment for those watching well back on the side of the roads.
EDM Landman sent this “mud anthem,” an excerpt from “Hippopotamus Song: Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud” written by Flanders and Swann in 1957.
“Mud! Mud! Glorious Mud!
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
So follow me, follow
Down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in
And wallow at times we do, in the mud with our vehicles, which leads me to this story told to me by Mike Kiess. He and Erika were going to Montpelier on an errand and decided to go through Williamstown. It was mud season, and as they drove on the back road they came to a large mud hole. A man at the side of the road waved them through, and they proceeded on their way. When they looked back at the mud hole, the man who waved them through was repairing the damage they caused. My question is, was he waiting for a family member to come home, or was he just being a good citizen? Either way, it doesn’t matter as this is a great story of Vermonters helping each other.
Descenda Cram wrote she remembered some years Godfrey was in such bad condition in mud season that the vehicles were “swimming” up to the bottom of the car. She says in order to ford the mud holes known as “bogs,” she had to punch the gas, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to steer through. She describes it as “a cross between riding a bucking bronco and a rollercoaster.” Her green VW Jetta, which was falling apart, got so deep in the mud at one point she had to rock it to free it from the mud. Another car wasn’t so lucky and was waiting to be towed out.
After her exciting drive through the mud, she called the town to ask about new patching that had been done on Godfrey Road and asked if the town could also patch the mud hole where she had come close to being trapped in the same way. Descenda told the guy he would probably find pieces of her Jetta in the “bog,” and they both laughed. The town came and patched the hole the same day.
Li Shen observed that, these days, some cars don’t give the option of “gunning it.” The Toyota Prius is much maligned in some circles for having a low clearance, though it doesn’t look too different from other sedans. It is equipped with traction control that takes over from the driver whenever the car’s computer senses wheel slippage — in snow or mud, for instance. Traction control really means the computer cuts back the amount of engine power supplied to the wheels until they can turn without slipping. Stomping on the gas pedal has zero effect, the wheels will not turn any faster. On one occasion the mud turned out to be deeper than anticipated. The car sank and was “bottomed out.” It seemed that all was lost. However, traction control kept it inching forward at a snail’s pace — a baby could have crawled faster. Unbelievably, it made it to firm ground on the other side. The wonders of technology.
Years ago when our kids were little, we lived on a different dirt road. Sunday afternoon for entertainment during this season, we would stand way back on the side of the road and watch vehicles traverse a very large mud hole. Two of the best stories were watching a VW bus hop like a rabbit from one side of the hole to the other, and a male driving a Mercedes rearing back on his seat, setting his fearful face into grim determination and his arms straight out and gunning it. The man’s face said it all!
Mud is frustrating, stressful, a wrecker of vehicles, and, at times, entertaining! I have told my husband more than a few times this year as we approach our road, “Time for more fun in the mud.” Thank goodness, it is our shortest season.