Primordial Ooze

If there’s one overarching image for springtime in rural Vermont, mud might be it.

With this rain, we’re deep in the season now, rutted roads and marshes of mud surrounding the house, bleeding up through melting snow. Come, come, bring us the woodland trilliums and spring beauties.

Restacking my fallen woodpile in the shed, assessing what remains, I find a hard-used outgrown child’s scooter, the green ball from our croquet set, a valuable cache of birch bark I’d stashed for kindling, and the center row of wood that was mud-covered when I’d stacked it.

The firewood had been delivered on a sunny August afternoon by a young woodcutter who dumped it in piles around the shed. A quarreling neighbor, in a fit of pique, had used his tractor to shove one of my piles into the mud. Now, that neighbor’s moved on. I lifted a piece of wood and banged it against the woodshed, loosening the dried mud.

How’s that for a literary metaphor in one piece of maple? The craziness of human relations, the sullying of sacred hearth, metamorphosis of mud, and that spinning cycle of change and unending Becoming.

Spring is not a season of Hallmark pastels in my world, but tiny treasures of crocuses  and snowdrops, the memory of my teenage daughter as she stepped out on the porch when the young woodman arrived that August afternoon. She was cooking dinner and carried a clove of garlic and a sharp knife. Welcome, she said to woodcutter, with her wide smile. We’re glad to see you.

Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery — the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets — is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.

– Alan Watts


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