spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
BAILIFF: Order, Order in the court. His Honor Judge Michael Fairmind presiding. Today’s proceeding is Case # 04217-37B. Ms. I.M. Peevish vs. Mud. Ms. Peevish contends that on or around April 1, 2017, said Mud did willfully grab on to Ms. Peevish’s shoes and threaten to suck her into the bowels of earth and/or keep her stuck until she died. That Mud is also a scourge of the earth wreaking havoc across the continents, causing blight, mayhem, and general naughtiness. Peevish is Suing for Damages, Pain and Suffering, Loss of Shoes, and Emotional Embarassment.
FAIRMIND: Is the Plaintiff’s case ready, Mr. Greedie? If so, please proceed.
GREEDIE: Thank you, Your Honor. We purport to show that Mud has caused massive problems worldwide with mudslides, mudstreams, and invisible mud pits which have caused thousands – including my client – no end of trouble.
Now, as Exhibit A shows, Mud is clearly a scourge of humanity. For example, just in 2017 alone there have been mudslides in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Peru. Highways have been blocked, havoc has been wreaked, and mud has been spilled. And did I mention the havoc?
FAIRMIND: You did.
GREEDIE: Good, it’s very important to get that havoc in there. Anyway, I would like to call my expert witness, Professor Thin to the stand.
BAILIFF: Calling Professor Tse N. E. Thin to the stand.
GREEDIE: Professor Thin, you are a professor, are you not?
THIN: I definitely am.
GREEDIE: And did you take these horrifying pictures of these mudslides in Colombia and Peru? And mudslides on the highway?
THIN: I did.
FAIRMIND: Where did you take them, Professor Thin?
THIN: I took them off the Internet.
JUSTCOSES: Your honor, I object. I dispute the expert credibility of this witness.
FAIRMIND: Hmm, what exactly are you a professor of? Environmental Geology? Paleontology? Geotechnical Soils?
FAIRMIND: Well, can you fix a ouija board?
THIN: Um, no.
FAIRMIND: Mr. Greedie, I’m not sure your client is the kind of expert witness that would help your case. This witness is excused. In any event, is your client even from Colombia or Peru?
GREEDIE: No, but she has a keychain from Machu Picchu…
FAIRMIND: Is there a local connection?
GREEDIE: My client is from northern California, Your honor, where there have been dozens of roads, hillsides and hiking trails collapsed due to mudslides. Exhibit B is a photo my client took of a damaged hiking trail she encountered. In this dramatic Exhibit B, a hiking trail at Las Trampas in northern California dropped nearly ten feet as a shifting mudslide tore a hole in the concrete.
COURTROOM (audible gasp)
FAIRMIND: (bangs gavel) There will be no audible gasping in my courtroom!
FAIRMIND: (glares at Courtroom, which shrinks back meekly) Mr. Greedie, did your client pay for this hike?
GREEDIE: No, Your Honor, hiking trails in the lovely East Bay Regional Park district are free with a multi-pass.
FAIRMIND: I fail to see where the damages occur.
GREEDIE: But, Your Honor, look at the road—? I mean just look at those dramatic pictures!
FAIRMIND: Maybe you better bring up your client and have her tell her story.
Client I.M. Peevish takes the stand.
GREEDIE: Tell us in your words the horrifying events of that fateful day when you got stuck in the mud.
PEEVISH: Well, it had been raining a lot, but finally stopped and was dry for a couple of days. So I went down onto the trail near my house for a little walk. The puddles were mostly gone and I figured if I ran into puddles, or mud, I would just go around them. The grass seemed pretty dry until I got to this one section. Although it didn’t look muddy, when I started to step onto the trail, my feet sank down a little. But not too much. So I kept going, until all a sudden, at one point, my feet sank down about six inches. And when I tried to pull up my foot, I couldn’t move! I was stuck! (glares at Mud at the Defendant’s table. Mud looks sheepish.)
COURTROOM (audible gasp)
FAIRMIND: What did I tell you about that audible gasping?
COURTROOM (grumpy muttering)
FAIRMIND: And no grumpy muttering either! Keep going, Ms. Peevish.
PEEVISH: As I was saying, I thought maybe it was quicksand. It was 10 o’clock in the morning and about a hundred yards away from a dozen houses, yet I thought it might be curtains for me. I could feel the mud closing in around my ankles. But I couldn’t pick up my shoes.
GREEDIE: Shocking! Just shocking! And yet you are here today – what did you do?
PEEVISH: Well, the only thing I could do. I pulled my feet out of my shoes and stepped into the mud in my socks. It squished between my toes, and was very cold. I took this picture here —
PEEVISH: Definitely ew! But fortunately, it wasn’t actually quicksand. I was able to lean over, fall over I should say, on my knees in the mud which was very squishy. Then, I pulled my shoes out one by one – (demonstrates) THWOCK! THWOCK!
GREEDIE: And that was it?
PEEVISH: Well, I had to keep going. Mud in front of me, mud behind me. I had to walk in my socks through the mud, holding my shoes. After about ten yards, the ground was solid enough for me to walk up the hill back home.
FAIRMIND: There was a hill next to this patch of mud? Why didn’t you just take the hill around the mud in the first place?
PEEVISH: That did occur to me on the way home, yes, Your Honor.
FAIRMIND: I’ve heard enough from this witness. I would like to hear now from the Defense. Who is representing Mr. Mud?
JUSTCOSES: I am, sir. My name is Champion O’Justcoses.
FAIRMIND: Proceed, Ms. Justcoses.
JUSTCOSES: Your Honor, this talk of Colombia and Peru is a blatant play for sympathy. Our hearts go out to the victims, and we ask everyone to donate to the Red Cross. But these acts are not related to the Plaintiff, and we could argue all day whether the true cause was my client, rain, or poorly supported infrastructure. As for hiking trails, Ms. Peevish didn’t suffer damages and as a taxpayer really needs to support improvements to our parks in the offseason to avoid these kinds of problems.
The fact is that instead of being a scourge, Mud is a boon to humanity. Mud literally causes flowers to grow. I wish to call my own expert witness, Professor Barbara Organic to the stand.
Professor B. Organic takes the stand.
JUSTCOSES: Now, Professor, could you tell us in your own words why you think Mud is so important.
ORGANIC: Mud is a critical part of the ecosystem. Mud is what allows growth. Exhibit D shows the interplay of Mud with other key players – the worms and the bugs.
COURTROOM: Ew! [gasping at the bugs]
FAIRMIND: Those are icky, Professor Organic.
ORGANIC: Icky, perhaps, if you are not an entomologist. But I sir, am a Professor of Entomology and Botany, and I also have degrees in Environmental GeoEngineering and Annelidology.
FAIRMIND: That’s a lot of degrees.
ORGANIC: Well, it’s hot where I come from.
JUSTCOSES: Professor Organic, what would you say about the value of Mud?
ORGANIC: I agree mud does get a bad rap, when it’s a kind of elixir of life, literally. Billions of microorganisms (MO’s) vital for soil integrity and plant growth live, and work, and have their being in mud.
In Montana, when the seven feet of snow in your yard starts to melt, you have mud, which is the medium, at the time, for worms, other nematodes, and the MO’s use to migrate around the soil and bring nutrients to plants that are waking up to their growth rush that’s spring. They’re also working feverishly to break down decaying organic matter like grass clippings, leaves, twigs, bark, your neighbor’s dog’s droppings, etc. and make it all new, nutritious additions building the soil. Billions of chemical reactions and gas exchanges (key among them carbon dioxide and oxygen) occur. Without mud, this important medium of the soil wouldn’t exist to facilitate growth, and the most basic levels of the soil called “Trophic Levels”, of which there are five: 1st—Photosynthesyzers-
FAIRMIND: Are you really going to list all five?
ORGANIC: I’m a Professor, that’s what we do… anyway… 2nd–(This is a big one where the MO’s live) Decomposers, Mutualists –
GREEDIE: We’ll stipulate the Trophic Levels.
ORGANIC: But I haven’t even gotten to the mighty toads!
FAIRMIND: Do you mean giant toads?
ORGANIC: No, no! Toads are mighty because they are a key part of the ecosystem. All of these Trophic Levels are.
That’s why synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are dangerous and shouldn’t be used, because their chemicals can migrate through mud, killing microorganisms as well as other animals higher up in the trophic ecosystem, then reaching our water tables to poison us. Then we’re caught in this endless death spiral because our plants won’t grow because we’ve killed the MO’s at the lower trophic levels, so we add the synthetics to keep our plants growing, which further kills the MO’s and other organisms, and finally creates a soil death community, or basically a garden or lawn that’s existing on a dead soil desert.
JUSTCOSES: That sounds pretty bad.
ORGANIC: It is. We don’t want to live on a dead soil desert. Mud–vibrant, living, organic mud– is gold–if you want healthy gardens, lawns, animals, and nutritious food. You gotta love it, and I say, “God bless it, Everyone!”
COURTROOM: [One member whips out a kazoo and begins to play “My Country ‘Tis of Thee….” Bailiff reaches over and grabs the kazoo. ]
FAIRMIND: [Bangs gavel] Why I oughta— Who let that kazoo in here? I’ll have to make a note to check the kazoo detector at the front. All it ever seems to find is guns. Ms. Justcoses, are you finished with this illustrious knowledgeable Professor here?
JUSTCOSES: Yes, Your Honor. And to finish my case, I would like to recall Ms. Peevish briefly.
PEEVISH retakes the stand.
JUSTCOSES: Ms. Peevish, I just have one question for you. We saw the dramatic photo you shared in Exhibit C. But let me ask – where are your shoes now?
JUSTCOSES: Yes, those horribly muddy shoes. Did you throw them out? Did you have to replace them….? What happened to the shoes?
PEEVISH: Um, I washed them.
JUSTCOSES: And can you still wear them?
PEEVISH: Yes, though they squish a bit… and they did make quite a thumping noise in the dryer.
JUSTCOSES: So you haven’t suffered any actual damages, have you? Nothing permanent?
PEEVISH: Except for the trauma –
JUSTCOSES: Let’s chalk that up to a learning experience. Don’t go tromping about in the mud after the rain in light tennis shoes. Your honor, Mud has been thoroughly slandered here for no good reason. If I may even say it, Mud’s name has been unfairly slimed!
COURTROOM: No sliming Mud!
JUSTCOSES: Plaintiff has not actually been damaged, and as we heard from our esteemed professor here Mud is actually a positive boon to the ecosystem. We ask for the case to be dismissed and for Mud to take its honored place in society as a highly contributing member. Because everyone knows April showers brings… Exhibit E.
In short, we believe that the proper term for it should be – as the poets say – MUDLUSCIOUS!
FAIRMIND: I agree, Ms. Justcoses. Finding for the Defendant. Case concluded!
COURTROOM: HUZZAH! Calloo Callay! Hooray for MudLusciousness!
Today’s post is brought to you by the word of the day: Chuckle.
While the events in this courtroom are not true, the story of the muddy shoes is quite real and, yet, somehow not as death-defying now as it seemed to me at the time. Many thanks to Professor Barbara Organic, my friend in Montana, whose last name is not Organic but it could be and who is not a professor but who could be… for her excellent analysis of the value of Mud. I have quoted most of her words verbatim.
Next week: Travel blogs from IRELAND!