The New Mud Season

Here in the lazy week between Xmas and New Year’s, we are stuck in a purgatorial pattern. There is no snow for skiing, not really, and yet the trails are sodden. What used to fall as December snow is just a jet stream flow of drizzle and gloom. Yesterday, briefly, things had dried enough to ride on higher ground, so I spent a couple hours turning myself inside out, hoping to satisfy all the urges that wake with me every morning.

It was worth a try.

It’s hard to say whether this is climate or weather. As I’ve had it explained to me, weather is your mood; climate is your personality. Have we grown muddy during the long march of global warming, or is this just a run of bad luck? It’s worth asking who it’s bad for, too. One person’s rain out is another person’s free shower. Water is, after all, what makes life possible here on this planet. This feels to me, a non-scientist, like a new phenomenon. It’s not, at any rate, the winter I remember.

I am not the type to ride wet trails either. It’s a bad idea most always, but even more so in winter, when the ruts will thaw and freeze, thaw and freeze. Someone get forensics down here to analyze these tread patterns. Criminals ride among us and give us all a bad name

In the fall, you expect the leaves to fall and intermittent rain to slick them up and break them down. But that’s before the freeze cycle begins. It used to be, or so it seems, that rain would switch to snow, and the rideability of the trails would come down to your early investment in studded tires or the alchemically perfect consistency of snow to bite and grip. Either that, or you’d leave the bike in its dry, warm resting place and break out a pair of skis.

I’d love to be skiing right now.

But I’m sitting on my writing couch looking out the front window at another day of liquid wet. There are a few rocks, at select locations in and around my neighborhood, that I could session on a day like today, to tune up the skills and occupy my restless mind, but the trails are a no-go.

This is the new mud season. The one that precedes the freeze that comes before the old mud season. Leaves. Mud. Ice. Mud. In that order. The new normal.

I’m a little bit resigned to walking the woods with the dog, who doesn’t care at all what the weather is, and daydreaming my way through each turn, as if I was riding. It’s amazing what a hero I am, and surely what a hero I’ll be, when the riding is only visualized and free of gravity. I float through the root and rock, like all those YouTube kids with sponsorship deals. In my mind, I am not an oldening guy juddering across Earth’s washboard until his back seizes.

I’m taller too.

Here’s the good news. I finally fixed the dryer. It was the solenoid coils that open the gas valve, not the high-temp sensor. Write that down for later. And I rearranged the bikes in the basement while I was down there. I hung the road bikes, so they dangle between the berths for the trail bikes. Does that mean I can get more bikes? Probably not, but still worth it.

This is what mud season means, idle time, frivolous busy work. The Russians wrote long, tortured novel in mud season. The Spanish cut the hams that had been hanging in their rafters. In Canada, deep mud made the moose easier to hunt. And I’ll think of something better to do too, while I wait for everything to dry out.

Join the conversation
  1. Dan Murphy says

    Being just west of Boston, I’m with you. I’d rather be skiing.

    Just took the dog for a walk on local trails and it’s definitely too squishy for tires. I’m hoping others feel the same way and don’t ruin the trails.

    Similarly, I’m dealing with a leaky washer. Found a leak, fixed it, but there’s another leak elsewhere. Working on the next step.

    Pray for snow.

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