March and Mud
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
By May Davidson
March mud is different from mere surface mud and shallow puddles. It isn’t just driveways and dirt roads that cause one’s feet to disappear. Stepping onto an innocent looking lawn can bring on ankle submersion. Three feet of frost is leaving the ground. Having taken up residence on this earth in a time when all town roads in Bremen and Bristol were dirt and single track, I remember very well how March mud changed our lifestyle in early spring.
My parent’s car stayed in the barn, only to be taken out for a trip to Damariscotta or Waldoboro early in the morning if the ground had frozen overnight. The Shore Road
in Bremen was typical of most. It was a morass, a bog waiting to swallow anything that entered it. Those that did venture either had to bring a team of horses to get hauled out (not always successful) or remain sunk to the axles until late April’s drying winds and sunshine came along.
My father taught me to drive on this road in mud season. Stay- ing out of the ruts and the ditches was an exhilarating challenge, and I loved it. Now it is a skill I no longer need. Every season has its joy, and my March mud joy was school being closed, sometimes for nearly six weeks, because of roads that weren’t passable even with the loads of rock and hay that were dumped in the worst spots.
I was free to roam the ever fascinating shore of Greenland Cove. I dug clams among the ice cakes and pulled snails from the ledges for my cat Smudgie who followed me as I gathered them. Then up the hill to the kitchen where I cooked them for him. I picked them out with a darning needle (we darned socks in those days!) then watched his delight as he settled on his haunches all slit-eyed and contented with his favorite meal.
Behind my childhood home, there was a great forest of tall pines. The silken whisper of their needles kindled many beautiful imaginings as I wandered in the depths of that magical place. Even as a child, there was the awareness of the clean purity of the woods and the com- fort of its loneliness.
March is the poor, bedraggled end of winter. Roadside snow is dirty. Now that roads are paved, frost heaves and hollows make driving a spring sport as items from the back seat fly to the front. Lawns are adorned with broken branches and there is a mist of melting snow, the demise of a season. But in early mornings there are maple sap icicles to be savored —broken from the branch, cold and sweet. Sun holds a promising warmth, spring and summer birds are arriving. Maine spring is our reward for the long winter and March mud.
We live here because Maine is clean sky, ocean, wild flowers, dark fir and spruce, and always the scent of pine and sea. Salt and sea roses. No other place matters when all this is home.
This essay is featured in May Davidson's second book, Salt and Roses, a charming collection for those who appreciate simple pleasures, like the beauty of human relationships, the playfulness of animals, and the charm of boating along the coast of Maine.