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An Ode to Mud

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October 18, 2018 | As children, my brother and I dug an immense dirt pit in the middle of the sea of dirt that made up our backyard. Combining this feat of excavation with a rapid flow of fresh water from the hose created a gritty, squishy, hog-wallow, offering hours of entertainment. The favorite pit activity was mud architecture. Fine dwellings of hardened mud and sticks were built for lucky Playmobile families. The homes lasted for weeks; we were truly masters of our craft. Eventually I grew older, and moved onto adult concerns, having been told by many an adult that miniature mud hut building would not serve to advance my station in life. How wrong they were.

Fast forward to September 2018. At age 23 I kneel on a steep slope of the sliperiest, slimiest, heaviest mud I have ever seen. Eight year-old me, playing in the sandy excuse for mud found in Florida, could never have imagined such glorious clay-heavy slop. God must have known it was my time to shine, for He provided a never- ending deluge of cold, saturating rain to ensure the soil never returned to its original form. I reached back into my memory, searching for the basics of mud-work I learned so long ago- make sure to get covered in mud, don’t be afraid to ruin your clothes, and keep your mouth closed. Soaked to the skin, my colleagues and I, mole-like in our enthusiasm, dug deep, slimy slots into which we inserted heavy rocks. At the end of the hitch, we were rewarded-along with more rain-with the sight of 16 firmly seated stones, holding back what would surely have been 16 tiny hill-side depleting, hike ruining, mud slides.

—Caitlin Denison, Crew 944