The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

March 15, 2014

Remember to wipe your feet

Some people love the idea of daylight saving, while others find it simply disrupting and confusing. Nonetheless, for us sportsmen, daylight saving provides us with more sunlight after working hours to enjoy the great out-of-doors.

As with most things in life, timing is everything. With spring officially starting Thursday, when day and night are each approximately 12 hours long, it appears the benefits of daylight saving time are right on track and in time for mud season.

(For those of you who prefer not to get off the pavement, you may insert the term “pothole season” instead.)

Mud seasons vary in duration and severity year to year. Some years can be thin while others, like this one, come slamming into our neck of woods causing a muddy mess of things. The recent rain and snow, mixed with a season’s worth of various wintertime precipitation, has made conditions prime for a glorious spell of mud season.

The first telltale sign of a full-blown mud season is the requirement of muck boots to get your newspaper from the box or to take the dog for a walk. Children and dogs seem to flourish during mud season and can easily be found by tracking their footprints across a recently mopped floor or vacuumed carpet. A stack of muddy-soled shoes at the door is the decoration of the season, making coming and going a little more tedious.

Although you may not find a listing for mud season in the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Regulations Summary booklets, ask anyone who lives with a sportsman and they’ll tell you the same sad tale of woe. The opening and closing dates of the season may vary annually, but the results are very predictable. Muddy shoes, socks, pants and jackets await a thorough scrubbing from the washing machine, triggering the operator to switch the cycle from normal wash to heavy duty.

Personal garments and home floorings aren’t the only objects affected by a full-blown mud season.  Sportsmen’s trucks take a muddy beating during the period, too. If you happen to hitch a ride with a sportsman during mud season, you will first notice the outward appearance of their rig. Splashed mud will be flung down the side of the vehicle, showing off their pride of running the back roads like decorative flames on the side of a hotrod. Just getting inside the mud-covered wagon without getting dirty is a chore. Once inside, the condition of the floor boards and floor mats will resemble something just shy of the pigpen on the old homeplace.

But like all seasons in West Virginia, mud season can’t last forever. Soon the spring flowers will bloom, trees will begin to bud out and the grass will awaken out of dormancy ready to soak up the spring showers and sunshine. Mud season will be a meager memory as its remnants get scrubbed away and washed down the drain.

The good news is spring is near and Old Man Winter is slowly losing his grip. A little mud is a perfectly proper price to pay for the upcoming warmer weather where trout rise and turkeys gobble. Until then, remember to wipe your feet.

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