The Mud Season

Patience darling,
it’s still too early
to trust the season
with that tenderness you hold
in your globed hands.

I can feel it, too—
the yearning to plant
your fingers in the warming earth
and release what’s so alive in you
into the scrum of all life.

But the ground’s still frozen 
beneath all this mud.
And winter, even on its way out
will take with it anything
that opens too soon.

So hold your longing 
a little longer
in the sheltered care of your body,
like soft green starts 
on the windowsill of your heart,
seeds from the tree
of good and evil.

I recently published a new book that features this poem plus many others to accompany you through every season of life.

It’s called The Wilderness That Bears Your Name.

You can see all the details here:

The Long, Uncertain Journey from Winter to Spring…

A couple years ago I heard that some Northeastern states have a fifth season between winter and spring—

They call it the “mud season.”

As soon as I heard that, something deep inside me sighed. It was that sensation you get when someone names the exact thing you’ve been feeling but couldn’t put words to.

“That’s the season I’ve been living,” I heard myself say.

I’d been through a hard winter a few years earlier. But when I finally came out the other side, it wasn’t into the warmth of spring.

It was into some kind of long, uncertain middle ground. 

A time with no clear paths. 

When a lot of the steps I tried to take felt like a heavy trudge.

In the Northeast, the mud season starts when the winter snowpack starts to melt, but the lower layers of earth are still frozen solid.

So instead of seeping down into the deep aquifers, all that snowmelt sits on the surface and turns the topsoil into thick, boot-sucking mud.

Meanwhile spring and winter tussle over the weather. 

One day dawns sunny and calm. The next is frigid and blizzarding again.

It’s a season of limbo.

Too warm to stay inside. But too muddy to get very far. Too cold to plant. But late enough that crops need starting.

In my own mud season, I was finally starting to feel the compass arrow of intuition pointing somewhere over the horizon. But there were no paths that started where my feet were and went that way.

And when I tried to make my own, it was all false starts and uncertain slogs.

But as I reflect now, I can see some of its gifts. 

Its pathlessness forced me to tune into that inner compass over and over, slowly honing my attunement to it. And its bogs and brambles taught me how committed some deep part of me is to making this journey.

Mary Oliver has a poem that says:

“There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life…”

This poem is a reminder that sometimes there’s a season before that. When you’d gladly go headlong down your path, if only it would appear.

And it will. Spring will come. It just might take a little slogging to get there.