March Is A Muddy Dog
by T. A. Fry
March is a muddy dog
Muddy boots, a muddy slog
Muddy kitchen, muddy jeans
In March we march in mud it seems.
With arms outstretched, shouting stop
Barring all with broom and mop
Parents tire of the constant chore,
Cleaning foot prints from the floor.
If muddy March is your downfall,
Show you’re not a neanderthal.
Remove your shoes, at the door,
Never track across a fresh scrubbed floor!
And though it’s maybe a bother,
Grab the dog by the collar.
Prevent paw prints on the carpet.
Wash their feet before they’re on it.
Mud does not limit itself to farms, but there is an extra helping of mud if you have livestock and daily chores. Years ago I lived on a small acreage and had a few furry beasts, more pets than livestock. At the time we lived in an old two story farm house with good bones. One of its best features was a mud room, an entry area where you could disrobe out of work attire and take off your shoes or boots before entering the kitchen. It served as a containment area for the dog and cast as well so that you could wipe off their paws before allowing entry into the kitchen. The kitchen was enormous, bigger than the dining room with a large wood stove towards the center that made everything cozy.
This was a well built farm house from the early 1920’s, with traditional features like hard wood floors and leaded glass windows on the first floor. In the 1980’s the wood kitchen flooring had been covered over with indoor/outdoor carpeting with a rather ornate pattern, in browns and golds and dark greens. It wasn’t attractive or unattractive, it was practical because it was easy to clean and disguised whatever dirt remained when you inevitably tracked some inside. We were young and broke and so it was not on the top of the list to replace when we moved in but was on the bucket list to do someday.
Our son was only a little over two that first spring in the house and with a newly arrived puppy and cat that had moved from barn to house when it got cold we had our hands full. One Saturday morning in March we came down and had coffee, made breakfast and were chatting for awhile, catching up on the week and generally enjoying the warmth of the kitchen, when in near simultaneous movement we both looked down at our son who was sitting on the floor smiling up at us. In slow motion we watched as he raised his right hand up to his mouth realizing he was about to suck on the head of dead mouse like a pacifier. My wife let out a shriek that peeled paint off the ceiling and my son dropped it and started crying. A prodigious scrubbing occurred in the sink of his hands and face as my wife shuddered not wanting to know if the head of the mouse was wet. She looked at me uttering one of the classic lines that occur in marriages; “from now on, I want flooring in our kitchen I can see the dead mice.” I silently agreed as I winked at the cat and disposed of the offender.
Like Pastan’s sentiments below, I find that pets remind me that I am not as much in control of my life as I would like to believe. Pets introduce a level of unpredictablity that is both hilarious and heart breaking. Pets are a reminder of how fast life speeds by and to enjoy it like “anything can happen.”
The New Dog
by Linda Pastan
Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come
this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
of my old simplicities-
as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.