You'd think, on a day when most of the clouds in the sky are manmade, that you wouldn't hear any complaints about the weather. This week has been mild and sunny. The fact is, though, that my personal outlook is partly cloudy because of last week's downpours.
If you've ever seen photos of Louisiana graveyards (by golly, there's one right here), you may have noticed that many of the dearly departed seem to be resting aboveground. The reason for that is that the water table lies much closer to the surface here than it does in most areas of the country. We can't dig too deep a hole without getting our shovels wet, and we don't want our dead to float away.
For that same water-table reason, when we have a few straight days of rain, as we did last week, the ground can't absorb all of it. In my front yard the excess rainwater simply rolls down the hill. In the back, though, it stands, invisible beneath the thick mat of dead, yellow grass and thriving winter weeds, waiting for an unsuspecting creature who'll attempt to bypass the cement and take a shortcut across the yard. One false step, and an errant foot is sucked below the grass and into mud deep enough to cover a shoe top.
If it's humanly possible, we humans stay off the grass when the ground is like this. The dogs, unfortunately, have business to tend to in the yard, business I'm glad they choose not to conduct on the stepping stones. They return from their forays into the yard with feet that look like these--or even worse.
Butch doesn't like the mud on his paws and tends to stay on the stepping stones except for urgent business. Kadi, on the other hand, is in her element. She races through the yard, her feet making slurping noises as she runs, splashing mud up onto her belly as she bares her teeth in her best canine grin. When I insist that it's time to come back inside, she barrels toward the door along a path of her own making, a muddy trail that lies about two feet to the right of and parallel to the perfectly good stepping stones.
I've calculated that I've been averaging an hour a day, broken up into multiple 5-10 minute segments, wiping mud off of dogs' legs with a series of wet towels. It's become so routine that when Kadi comes through the door, she immediately hits the floor, rolls over on her back, and sticks all four feet up into the air to be cleaned. She doesn't appear to enjoy it, but she knows it's gotta be done before she gets a treat. That's eight legs to be cleaned, twice in the morning before I can even go to work, once at lunchtime, twice again in the evening, and last night (I wanted to shoot them) in the middle of the night.
I clean their feet, then I mop up the floor with the damp towel. At the end of each day I have to wash a load of muddy towels. All this muddy water is taking a toll on my hands. Just look at the semi-permanently puckered prunes that try to pass themselves off as my fingers.
There's one more problem that's directly related to the wet ground, one you might not have considered: spiders. Every year, when the yard reverts to the swampland it must have been in a previous lifetime, these spiders move out of the yard and into the house. They're little (I zoomed in for the closeup), but they creep me out. They like to lurk in shadowed corners, and they seem to have a special fondness for hiding under piles of damp, muddy towels. Many of the spiders (most of them, I hope) aren't particularly adept at lurking, so (with apologies to Charlotte and Wilbur) I stomp two or three of them every day.
I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for another dry season soon.