Thursday, March 4, 2010

We Call it Mud and Flood Season


The day time temperatures have been above freezing and to a good ten degrees some days. This on top of three feet of wet snow in a week and something has to give. Obviously you would say the snow, but if you were to look out my window it would seem that just as much is there as was before.

Snow melts funny. It seems to do it from the bottom up. The moonlight shining on the snow fields this morning indicates that there is a glaze on the snow so some melting must happen where exposed to the sun, but all the melted snow is under it. It seeps out on to any area that has been cleared of snow by graders or shovel and forms puddles, and on our improved dirt roads - mud. And where you cannot see this dissolving of snow into water it sneaks downhill toward streams and bar ditches and culverts and, oh yes, Lake Coyote! It is no doubt expanding under its blanket of snow.

It is this slow seeping of moisture under the snow pack that is so beneficial to our forests. It increases the moisture in the soil and in the trees and lessens the fire danger during our summers. It is good up there in the tree-lined ridges of our mountains.

But here in the relative lowlands us locals call this mud and flood season. It usually makes its appearance in March and runs through April depending upon the amount of snow to melt. Note we are likely to get more snow to add to the mud through April too.

There are a couple rules about mud and flood season: Don't wear white is one. Don't bother cleaning the carpet until May. And always travel with a second pair of shoes in the car so when you get to your friend's house you can step out of your muddy boots on the porch and slip the clean ones on.

This is when newcomers to the area reconsider the advice given about not installing white carpet, and the importance of a mud room for the pets to traverse through and guests to switch into those clean shoes.

But the absolute best part of mud and flood season is it means spring is not far behind. And under that seeping snow the grass is greening up and the seeds and roots of sunflowers are getting ready to spring forth. If there is mud the green cannot be far behind.

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