Loose Ends: Springtime in the Rockies turns muddy

BMEEKER — One might say our name is mud these days — not individually, but throughout the community, as we face the “season without a name” in this valley.
Everyone’s take on most of the seasons seems to be fairly positive, depending on whether one enjoys the snow and cold of the long winters, the balmy summers or the crisp autumns. However when it comes to the melting snows of late winter and early spring, most everyone hates the mud.
It squelches into town around March and lasts for a couple of months. Some might say mud season is one of Meeker’s most well kept secrets, as no one goes out of his way to explain to newcomers what to expect during their first year. Many of them say they moved here because of the scenic views, the small-town atmosphere or for the many seasonal recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking or snowmobiling. No one moved here for the mud. Many longtime residents might take their ATVs or pickups out in the muck and the mire but like many recreational activities, mud wallowing often becomes a diversion simply because “it is there.”
How many friends and neighbors do you know who claim that they they moved here for the mud?
If the ranchers and farmers seem blase about mud season, they have good reason, as it appears the more mud they face during calving season, the better chances they have for a green spring and summer.
One western writer from Montana characterized the seasons in their high country as not-quite-winter, almost-winter, winter, and construction. It seems an apt designation for this region’s seasons as well.
Many pioneer accounts of coming over the mountains included stories about getting stuck in the mud. It is interesting that the derivation of the word pioneer is said to derive from the root word meaning foot soldier, someone going before or a way-maker.
“Stuck in the mud” might have been a good excuse to give to your one-room schoolteacher when you showed up hours late but when you live in town, it is an all but impossible feat these days. Spinning our wheels in spring most often occurs when we can no longer stand to stay inside and want to get out into the high country.
Long time residents have the right idea though, when they look at the season in a different way. They don’t bemoan the fact that their front room is cluttered with mud spattered boots and shoes.
Much like the desert residents who tout their extremely high temperatures by pointing out the lack of humidity in the air with a sassy, “No problem — it’s a dry heat,” some local folks recognize mud season is short (compared to winter) and say, “It dries up fast!”