Squam-On Golden Pond, and The Mud

I remember watching the movie On Golden Pond many years ago–hmmm, too many years ago: 1981–and thinking how much I would love to visit that area of New Hampshire.   The lake was so pristine, the pines adding a texture and color to the picture that was so perfect.  It seemed so close to wilderness to me at the time, living in Maryland, and I felt a longing.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that the workshops I am teaching at Squam Lake,  June 3-7, are not only on Golden Pond (aka Squam Lake), but I will be up close and personal with the areas in which the movie was shot!  I promise there will be photos of THAT gig!  I am so thrilled to finally meet that amazing body of water.   Down in Maryland, a pond is a bitty thing you can throw a stone across to the other side.  But Squam LAKE (as it should be called) is this graceful, stunning jewel, 7 miles by 4.6 miles large.  I am looking forward to teaching there with Sally Melville and Annie Modesitt, as well as many others.  If you are interested in checking out the classes, visit Squam.  A fun time will be had by all, I assure you!

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I am breathing a sigh of relief.  Mud season is over.  I hear you out there, saying “Mud?  What’s a little mud in the spring?”  Yes, up here in Vermont we have five seasons.  Well, last year Putney was blessed with an easy mud season. Though I never got stuck, it was a little hairy traversing the 3 miles of wet-dirt road out to the macadam.  I was, thusly, able to perpetuate my personal myth that mud is not a big deal.  This myth has now been officially dashed, cremated, and gone forever.  I have been through the fire of Mud Season.  It is Something to Reckon With.

As the layers of frozen snow and ice beneath the surface begin to thaw, and the snow on the hills to either side melt, the road becomes this organic morass of changing, moving strips of mud, sometimes the entire width of the road.  At first, it’s just a bit muddy, but as the days goes on and more people drive over it, it deepens until it can get up to (and in some cases above) the axles of your car. Mud season lasted almost two months.

It actually became a game as I would approach the next mud-patch-du-jour.  I would stop 30 feet away, peer at it, make my calculations as to which side would be the least threatening, and then rev through the mess, hoping my momentum would get me to the other side.  Thank goodness my cell phone worked on the worst part of the hill.  AAA became my friend.  One night, the tow truck almost got stuck.  The last time my son got stuck, the tow truck driver was so fed up he refused to come out, so AAA had to find another company to come.  Three hours of waiting in the wet cold night.  SOB!

It was really stressful, especially at night when I would be coming home from a workshop, not sure if I could get through.  How would I haul my 50 lb. suitcase over 3 miles of mud to get home at 11pm? And what would my neighbors do, who have 4 wheel drive, if they found they were trapped by my stuck car?  Finally, I parked the car three miles away from the house (on the macadam), caught a ride with a 4 wheel drive neighbor,  and stayed home.  For a week.

Now the road is dry. The deep ruts formed by all this sculpted mud have dried into dramatic peaks and valleys and big ol’ holes.  Still, no one comes to visit me.  Soon the heroic town road maintenence crew will smooth it all over, throw some dirt and rocks on it, and the mud memories will vanish as the mountain bursts forth with flowers and leaves and bears and glorious summer.  Until next year.

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