Mired in Mud

Ten solid days of rain can have its effects. It takes its toll in a variety of ways on the human psyche–the bleakness seeps into my brain, making my gray matter much grayer than usual. Everything slows down to a crawl and climbing out of bed to another dark day requires commitment and effort.

Managing barn chores and horses these days is a challenge. Despite years of effort to create well drained paddocks with great footing, there is no such thing when the ground is super saturated from unrelenting inches of rain, and when the barn and paddocks are unfortunately placed on the downside of a hill. Every bare inch of ground has become mud soup with more water pouring off the hill every moment.

Mud in all its glory rivals ice for navigation hazard. Yesterday it was a boot magnet as I tried carefully to make my way with a load of hay to a bit drier area in a paddock, and found with one step that my boot had decided to remain mired in the muck and my foot was waving bootless in the air trying to decide whether to land in the squishy stuff or go back to the relative safety of the stuck boot. Standing there on one foot, with a load of hay in my arms, I’m sure I looked even more absurd than I felt at the moment, and at least I gave comic relief to people driving by. I won’t say how I figured my way out, but it did require doing laundry later.

I remember quite a few years ago when my daughter was about 5 years old, I was busy with chores as she was exploring a similar muddy paddock and I realized I hadn’t seen her for a few minutes and I went looking. There she stood, wailing, with one stocking foot in the mud, an empty boot stuck up to its top, and her other boot so mired, she couldn’t move without abandoning it too. By the time I got her extracted, we were both laughing muddy messes.

More laundry.

The Haflingers are not averse to the mud if they are hungry enough. They’ll hesitate momentarily before they dive in to reach their meal but dive in they do. Those clean blonde legs and white tails are only a memory from last summer. Even their bellies are flecked with brown now. Later, back in the barn, as the mud dries, it curries off in chunks and I start to see my golden horses revealed again, but it seems they will never be truly clean again.

What lures me into the mud, enticing me deeper in muck that covers and coats us so thoroughly that it feels I’ll never be clean again? Whatever I want so badly that I’m willing to get hopelessly dirty to reach it, once there, it is tainted by the mud as well, and never as good as I had hoped. I become hopelessly mired and stuck, sinking deeper by the minute.

Rescue comes from an outreached hand with strength greater than my own. Cleansing may be merely skin deep, only to last until my next dive into the mud, or it can be thorough and lasting–a sort of future “mud protective coating” so to speak. I can choose how dirty to get and how dirty to stay and how clean I want to be.

I need to go do laundry again.

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