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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • A Little Salt: Another kind of season

  • Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley recently learned there's more than the seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. Do you know what the other season is?
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  • The English language is a funny thing. It’s particularly interesting how phrases unique to certain regions can pop up.
    My sister-in-law Marty once shared with me one of the new sayings she had added to her vocabulary after moving from the Midwest to Texas. One of her new acquaintances in the Lone Star State asked her if they could “carry” her somewhere. My prim-and-proper relative was somewhat shocked that someone she hardly knew was offering to lift and transport her until Marty realized she was simply being offered a ride.
    My wife, Nancy, found herself confronted with another regional saying during her recent stay in Wisconsin, where she went for over a week to help our son, Jacob, and his wife, Whitney, after the birth of their first child.
    When she wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to snuggle with her newest grandchild, Nancy was doing what she could to help Jacob and Whitney. That assistance included going to the grocery store. During one such excursion a friendly Wisconsinite (that’s right, I looked it up) asked my bride how she was enjoying “mudding season.”
    Mudding season?
    There are any number of seasons that come and go during the course of every calendar year.
    Sports fans are familiar with football, basketball, hockey and baseball seasons.
    Talk to gardeners or farmers and you’ll likely hear about planting, growing and harvesting seasons, which can vary depending on the crop that is being grown.
    The days between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1 are frequently referred to as the “holiday season,” or “holiday shopping season” for many. And it seems like any more the holiday shopping season actually begins the day after Halloween.
    Each spring people of the Christian faith look forward to the Easter season. Countless other Americans loathe another spring season, when taxes come due.
    Of course, those of us who reside in the Midwest are familiar with the four seasons, and I’m not referring to the popular music group that belongs to both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame. I mean the seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter.
    However, after doing a bit of research, I discovered some parts of the country actually have a “fifth season,” which is mudding season. It arrives in late fall/early winter and again in late winter/early spring when dirt paths such as roads and hiking trails become muddy from melting snow and rain.
    While attributed to the New England region, it actually applies to all places where the ground freezes deeply in winter, is covered by snow and thaws in the spring. Dirt roads and paths become muddy because the deeply frozen ground thaws from the surface down as the air temperature warms above freezing. The snow melts, but the frozen lower layers of ground prevent water from being absorbed deeply into the soil so the surface layers of earth become saturated with water and turn to mud.
    Page 2 of 2 - By the time Nancy left Hannibal for Wisconsin, except for a few piles of dirty snow here and there, most of the precipitation remnants from our winter season were gone. However, in the frozen north, several inches of white stuff still covered the ground, despite the fact the temperature was on occasion creeping above the freezing mark.
    As she watched children heading to and from school around our son and daughter-in-law’s home, Nancy noted that during mudding season the smart youngster was adorned in boots. Not the stylish boots that my teen-age daughter, Anna, wears out and about during winter, but old school, rubber galoshes that are intended to keep feet dry, warm and mud free. It reminded me of the rubber boots my mother used to send me to school in long ago.
    Maybe I’ve been dealing with mudding season all my life, and just didn’t realize.
    I wonder if Hallmark makes a “mudding season” greeting card.
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