My grandmother invented the fifth season. She named it the “mud season.” Mud — the fifth season, now playing near you. I take it as a time of joy. It’s finally spring. Nana considered it a personal assault on her castle of clean, prime time grime time.
My grandmother invented the fifth season. She named it the “mud season.”
Nana was an old-time housewife, proud of it and totally competent. Everything was squeaky clean, her measure of cleanliness. Her Hoover sat in the closet like a fire truck, ready to race off to dirt emergencies.
(Nana had a cleaning lady once a week. She’d spend the days ahead cleaning, making sure the house was spotless for Mariah.)
Grandpa walked down his drive to get his newspapers. Coming back, he’d see an odd stick out of place in his yard. Nana found the molecule of mud on his slipper, and all hell broke loose.
Mud — the fifth season, now playing near you. I take it as a time of joy. It’s finally spring. Time to go out and blow off the stink. Nana considered it a personal assault on her castle of clean, prime time grime time.
“Frank, for Pete’s sake, take off your shoes.” Who is this Pete guy anyway?
Grandpa craved jokes. Sometimes he’d open and close the back door, and grandma would yell. He’d do it again. She’d yell again.
Grandkids by nature presented cleanliness challenges. We played tag for 10 minutes and came back in, standing for inspection in the hallway. Nana knew all the muddy places, the ribs in our sneaker soles, our knees, our seats, odd fingers.
She’d go over us with a nasty wash cloth and Fels-Naptha soap, an industrial solvent.
“Now try to stay clean for at least five minutes.”
We’d head out after lunch and face the same drill. I thought she’d scrub the features off my face.
Grandpa did everything to create himself in me. We’d spend hours outside in the mud working his garden, picking up his sticks and getting gloriously filthy.
Then we’d stand for inspection, he too, and Nana would hit apoplexy.
Which brings us to 2010. Somehow I survived all that dirt. So I slam the back door, and I hear my wife, “Jim, take off your shoes.”
We were watching the news, a huge landslide in South America, the whole mountain falling down.
“It’s the fifth season,” Leen said, “mud season.”
Where do these women learn this?
Their grandmudders, of course.
Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.