For me, the matter of mud runs deep and gooey through my veins. It's stuff that symbolises the joy and fun of being alive. More than that, it's about finding meaning and purpose. It's a metaphor for so many people who want to give children a childhood with lots of outdoor adventures.
As a child I was fascinated by puddles that lay in wet mud. I loved mud that stuck to my welly boots and the sound of squelch. Many years ago, Toronto Outdoor Education Schools (TOES) - the collective group of outdoor centres within Toronto District School Board decided that it's motto was to be "Mud Between the Toes." That's the Squelch Factor. The toe-curling, boot-stomping mud squelch.
And the person who was involved in choosing that tagline is Mark Whitcombe. He continues the mud. From him I learned about the poem Two Tramps in Mud Time which sums up what happens when passion becomes work and work becomes play. The last verse states:
But yield who will to their separation
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and needs are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes
With mud comes memories. As well as childhood ones, I have adult reminiscences too! I've a little pot made from mud clay. It was gathered from the riverbank in Achnasheen where I taught in a tiny school of around 6-14 children ten years ago. For me, this object is a pot of memories. Mud gone hard that has stored a moment in time to symbolise a place where the children played frequently in and near the river.
Long may the rivers, mountains, hills and whole world ring to the sound of children laughing as they play. In mud, water, woods, on beaches and any other place that connects people to the land. Mud sticks. Mud makes memories.
The photos for this post from from a Mud Pies woodland session. Many thanks to Mandy Tulloch who runs Mud Pies, a company that provides outdoor nature sessions for pre-school children and their families.