In most of the world there are four seasons: summer, fall, winter and spring. In this part of the country, though, there is a fifth season. It is called “Mud Season.” It doesn’t have a set start date like the other four, but its impact is just as large.
Mud season can start as early as March or as late as May, but the one thing that is a given is that it will definitely hit our area at some point during that period. This year it started a couple of weeks ago and we are about into it full-fledged. I have experienced it for a lot of my life, but until I retired and moved back home to the west end of the U.P., I hadn’t dealt directly with it much. It can be a challenge, but it is a common occurrence here and if you stay around, you have to get used to it.
Mud season temperatures usually range in the 40s during the day and the 20s at night. The snow slowly starts to melt but until it does the ground stays wet and the non-paved roads stay soft and mushy. There typically isn’t much sun until near the end of the season and if there is a sunny day, I swear I have seen people wearing shorts and t-shirts even though the thermometer hasn’t hit 50.
If you talk to any of the locals, this is the time of the year when a lot of folks pack up and head somewhere else. While January and February are snowy and cold, most folks here love the winter and don’t mind being around for it. It is when the gloom of mud season hits that these folks hit the road. Those of us who stay have to pay the consequences of a local population that shrinks even lower. Local businesses shorten their business hours or even close completely for the duration.
They use the time to get their businesses in shape for the upcoming summer season or they, too, get away themselves and find a place that has sunshine and warmer temperatures. This is such a widespread occurrence, a local radio station has a Mud Season update. They actually go through the list each day and tell you which businesses are open since that list is much shorter than those that are closed. It can be difficult to find a restaurant open Sunday through Wednesday and be prepared for shorter hours in other places if you need a gallon of gas or a few groceries.
It really doesn’t bother me as those of us who live here are used to planning for long trips to town all year round and buying two of things so we don’t run out at a bad time. In fact, I like the challenge. My bride is not much of a go out to eat person and loves to cook, so as long as we keep the freezer full, we are in good shape.
I know sunshine; warmer temps and green grass are just around the corner so in the meantime I will spend more time in my wood shop. The project list is still large and getting larger. I guess because my hours have expanded instead of shortened, I have caught the attention of some of the folks who are braving the season and want to get some of those pieces built while they have the time to re-decorate. I love it when a plan comes together.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: Tim Regan