Mud Time

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

mud-beccklecticPhoto: becklectic / flickr

“The problem with mud season,” writes Beth Daley in the Sunday, April 19, Boston Globe, ” is not just that it exists, but that there is more of it.”

New England winters have warmed on average more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 40 years, allowing spring melt to begin earlier and the ground to freeze later in the fall. Add to that an increase in winter thaws, mini-mud seasons that are a preview for the main spring event. It all adds up to more muddy days per year.

The trend presents bigger problems than buying rubber boots. New England’s logging industry depends on winter for work. Most roads into the North Woods are unpaved and need to be frozen or very dry to support the weight of logging trucks. Timber companies also need frozen ground to get to low-lying trees.

You’d have to experience mud season to believe it. Around here, in any given winter the frost can get a foot and a half deep in places. And when it comes out of the ground in early spring, what you have is a gloppy mess that can tear off your boots and land you on your hind end, with nothing around to get hold of to pull yourself up.

The first spring we lived here, our dooryard was almost like quicksand. We put down planks to get to the car. It was like walking a tightrope.  I stayed indoors as much as possible for the couple of weeks it took for things to dry out. Then we bought a couple of truckloads of gravel. We have to replace it every five years or so or we’d be walking the planks again.

Our home is on the paved portion of a road that is largely unpaved. At both ends there’s a sign that bans trucks over five tons (that means no logging trucks) for the duration. Eventually, the signs will come down and the loggers will return.

If you haven’t experienced mud time, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Here‘s your chance to find out.

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