I usually think that I am fairly optimistic, but of late my typically bright outlook on life has been put to the test. The valley’s seemingly endless sea of mud has begun to coat not only our creek world, but my disposition as well.

Muddy dog pawprints cover the front porch and side deck, not to mention the cabin’s wood floor. When the dogs return from outside, I try to wipe off their feet and brush the brown clumps from their black fur, but it seems to no avail.

After a nap by the wood-burning stove, a pile of dried dust marks where they lay, and a loving pat on their backs results in a cloud of dust that I try not to inhale.

I find myself sweeping the mud-turned-to-dust off the cabin’s floor countless times each day, and I am continuously brushing a thin film of airborne mud-dust off of the table and counter. I would not even try to count the number of times that I have tripped over the pile of muddy boots we have left by the cabin’s front door.

I have also noticed that our creek valley mud has the uncanny ability to cling to my coveralls and jeans with amazing tenacity.

A simple trip out to the wood shed results in various shades of brown adorning the cuffs of my pants, and if the dogs join me and brush by my side, I return to the cabin with muddy swatches up and down my legs. And then, if I go uptown to buy groceries, it looks as though I have spent the day hard at work outside, clearing fields or doing some other such strenuous farm chore, when in reality, I have been hunkered down inside the cabin
thinking that it is simply far too muddy to venture out.

The mud in our yard is actually so prevalent, that it seems like a sea of brown surrounding small island tufts of green grass, and even though I might be wearing my rubber work boots, I still find myself carefully navigating my way as I step from tuft to tuft. My cautious course-plotting, however, seems to be to no avail. I feel as though I am nothing more than a mud magnet.

On my last venture outside, however, just as I was completely succumbing to the mud-brown blues, I heard a joyous noise approaching from behind.

I carefully turned to watch the makers of this impossibly happy sound as they waddled toward me in their perfect duck row. I stood transfixed, carefully balancing on a green tuft of grass.

As I watched, they came upon a duck-perfect mud puddle. They broke out of their linear formation and began to gloriously dip their bills into the murky brown water and joyfully wiggle their heads back and forth. Every now and then they would throw their heads back and quack with blissful delight. And then, as if on cue, they stood up straight, lined up once again in their linear formation and continued their march in search of another
duck-perfect puddle.

I had to smile as I thought to myself, even though this sea of mud was certainly driving me to distraction, I knew without a doubt that it really was good for the ducks.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.