Dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, and minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck.
In New Hampshire, during March and April, that grayish brownish wettish combination culminates in what is affectionately known as Mud season. The affection may be mixed with hostility depending on the exact composition of the miry bog as well as its relative location to your feet or your vehicle.
In South Carolina, we are proud of the pluff mud in our marshes, and we want to keep it there. A low country brewery produces a Pluff Mud Porter, but they market their beer based on lovely images of the Carolina coastal marsh, not because the beverage contains mud.
Scooped up in a clear glass container, mud is not pretty. It could have been named Yuk because the mixture of these common materials into a muddy consistency is a mess.
Winter snow is beautiful. Spring flowers are lovely.
Mud season is a different matter. Houses in New England are constructed with mudrooms to keep the grime out of the living areas of the house. Mud mats are required. Automobiles are made filthy by the accumulated grunge. Muck is the enemy. Pets that get caught in the quagmire are disgusting.
Mud, however, may be highly valued in health and beauty spas as a type of therapy for skin problems. Some mud formulas are used to soothe aches and pains deeper within the human body. Minerals in some soils, containing ash, for instance, are said to provide healing for various physical maladies. You can buy a Borghese Mud Mask “sourced from Tuscany’s volcanic hills.” You can purchase Dead Sea Facial Mud or Seaweed Mud. These products are not cheap. They are also not for the sane.
Mud can also be redeemed as a structural aid. Malleable when wet, mud, when dried, can seal cracks in the joints of construction projects, or make bricks for building huts.
Children spontaneously make art with mud. If the dirt contains kaolinite, it’s called clay. Potters use sophisticated formulas of mud and/or clay to produce magnificent pots, plates, chalices, and sculptures.
If the proportions of the primary ingredients within the recipe are altered, our experience can be transformed. Dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck, may still surround me, but it doesn’t always result in unsightly mud. Instead, I can enjoy a flowing river and marvel at the deep gorges as I raft with my grandson on the whitewater of the Chattooga River. The same materials as mud, but comprised by different percentages of each ingredient, make for outdoor beauty that has little to do with ugly and unpleasant muck. Instead, the landscape bursts with color, a Garden of Eden.
As a hiker, my favorite destinations are waterfalls. Water is even in the name. A stream of mud and water flows over miles of rocks as it searches for lower ground and, ultimately, the sea. Lots of muck is stirred in the process, as creek banks cave in, but the water continues its meandering journey, pulled by gravity down, down, and farther down the riverbed. Photographers flock to these picturesque sites to capture images of beauty. International tourists travel to mammoth cascades listed among the natural wonders of the world—Angel Falls in Venezuela and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Yet what is a waterfall but dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, and minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck?
“God saw everything he had made and, behold, it was very good.”