And what of this wind-whipped, soggy, savory day with its cloak of grey and its stinging drops, brown grass and bare branches, stark naked but still in glorious, dancing majesty? There is no train of hopeful, athletic feet running through the park now; just my husband, myself, and our wolfish dog, trudging. My husband’s loafers, my clompy black Keen boots, slick ginkgo leaves and dry oak soaked, no crunch today.
Sage steps into thick, dark ooze, a paw print already there. Will he pee on it, declare that prime spot his own? No. He has other business to take care of, moving into the kangaroo squat that signals an impending load of fertilizer about to be dumped on the already rich mud-leaf mixture. I watch for the end so I can yank the leash, to avoid his bull-style mud-kicking attempt to cover up the mess. My husband stands nearby, rain cascading off his hat in thick sheets, ready to take the umbrella and leash so I can indulge in my compulsive pick-up, though the rain is a nature-made clean-up crew. I jerk the leash too soon, before Sage is finished, and my husband is not in the mood to find my declaration of poopus interruptus amusing.
Throughout the park, mud peeks out from between near frozen grass clumps, pools at the bottom of depressions where raindrops gather to create miniature lakes and ponds. I remember playing in mud puddles as a child, the joy of finding a body of water—pond or lake or ocean—after a storm had washed the air clean and frosty, a painter of red cheeks and nose tips. Or in summer humidity, when a sudden downpour had brought surprising relief, wet air, wet grass, glorious wet mud squishing between heat-weary toes.
But what if your name was used as an insult, a threat to mar other names? “Your name will be mud.” Really? Because I kind of like mud. Muddy rich soil, mud acting like plaster of Paris, catching paw prints of squirrels, dogs, cats, mice, humans, and the quiet elk that is not here but is. Septarian stone is formed of calcite, Aragonite, and limestone pressed into primordial mud. A Septarian “dragon egg” sits on a shelf in our dining room, a rich, sparkly baby dragon shape dominating the interior of the geode. It is healing and grounding. I bought it in anticipation of my husband’s septarian year, then could not wait to see his face.
Mud paints tiny abstracts on the floor, creates enviable dramatic effect on an old white towel. Mud has gathered on my old black boots, igniting a wistful spark in the eyes of our three-year-old grandson, whose blue canvas sneakers sit, disappointingly clean, near the front door. Mud puppy, mud pie, mud caked under happy fingernails. This boy could use some red galoshes for a rain dance, a puddle jump, holy water splashing sacred mud.
Teressa Rose Ezell’s short story “Water and Fire” will be included in Main Street Rag’s spring 2015 anthology, and her creative nonfiction will appear in the May/June issue of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable’s literary journal. She has published nonfiction articles on a wide variety of topics and will soon receive her MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University.
Teressa shares an ancient house near Tower Grove Park in St. Louis with her husband, three children, one grandchild, a wolfish dog, and an owl-faced cat. She takes every opportunity to enjoy that mystical park, come rain, shine, or rich, slick mud.