It’s mud season…that time of year when those of us who have been slumbering right along with Mother Earth roll over and discover that she, too, suffers from a wicked case of morning breath.

The manure in the barnyard, so dependably solid throughout the ice and snow of winter, grips our feet as we carry feed to the livestock, releasing pungent odors of pigs, sheep and cows. We greet each other with shrieks at the kitchen door. “Take off your boots! You’re tracking manure, and you stink!”

Mother Earth’s morning breath is not limited to the barnyard. The woodpile, too, suddenly damp, gives off a musty odor, along with the moldering leaves and newly stirring bug colonies residing in the crevasses. The compost pile, mounded high with the carcasses of all our winter feasts and in desperate need of turning, releases her own unique aroma of grit and rot as she simmers away in the morning sun.

Like a newly wakened bedfellow, I take in these mud season scents and feel inclined to block them – to roll over with my pillow over my head and wish for my winter’s rest to continue.

But Mother Earth, herself seemingly weary of being stagnant too long, will not cooperate. As the snow and ice trickle away from the edges of the fields and forests, the smell of the soil itself gently emanates up from the ground. Hardly discernable at first, this odor is not foul, but sweet. The scent of heat and moisture seeping through the fertile ground is so unmistakable and irresistible, no matter how fiercely my body longs to rest, I cannot resist the opportunity to draw in my breath. I stop wherever I detect it and inhale. Like a fresh pot of coffee, this smell of the earth is more persuasive than the warmth of down blankets and pillows, more enticing than winter’s slumber. It beckons – it is time to come out and grow.

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