After the Storm

You gotta be careful what you wish for! A little over a week ago, an “atmospheric river” dropped six to eight inches of rain in our area in a 24-hour period. There were reports of localized flooding and downed trees. We watched as water flowed along drainage ditches long overgrown and small seasonal ponds we remembered from rainy winters past began to take shape. The dry, parched fields that surround our property seemed to change from brittle brown to vibrant green overnight.

In the days since the storm, birds have returned, our neighbor’s sheep are happily nibbling the new green sprouts and two friendly free-range goats from next door are doing their bit to help nip early weed shoots right in the bud.

Besides the welcome rain, I have to tell you that the best part for me is the mud. Okay, this is my inner child speaking but I’m letting her have the keyboard for a moment. Clomping around in my red boots, I’m finding all sorts of fresh footprints; the elongated heart-shaped marks of deer, tiny human-like handprints of racoons, sprinting tracks of jackrabbits, tentative tracks of birds, and a few others I don’t recognize.

This brings back a memory of my seventh-grade science “field trip” to the muddy banks of a creek behind our school. We carried strips of oak tag (heavy paper similar to cardstock), bags of plaster of Paris, a bucket of water and a paint stick for stirring. Our task was to find an animal footprint, circle it with a band of oak tag stapled together with our name written on the outside, and pour the mixed plaster into the circle to harden. We returned a couple of days later to retrieve our plaster cast footprint, peel off the paper and brush off the loose dirt. I kept that deer print for a long while. Apparently, it’s still with me.

Kids these days seem so much more sophisticated! That science lesson is probably given to second graders now. Times change, but footprints will always be footprints. Let there be mud.

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