When I spotted the mud puddle, I thought it would be fun to jump it.
The dirt road that ran along the edge of the field by our West Tennessee farmhouse was often traveled by trucks or tractors. And the ruts in the sandy, red dirt would fill with rain and create long stretches of rust-colored puddles. I was barefoot and seven years old. My brothers and sister were with me.
“Watch this,” I said. And I ran and jumped.
My feet landed in the thick mud and streaks of red clay splattered across my legs and shorts. They laughed. And soon, one by one, each of them tried it too.
“I think you could paint with this mud,” my sister said.
“Oh, yeah? I bet it would look good painted on you!”
And the mud battle began. Fists full of Tennessee red clay were thrown and splattered.
And we chased one another until my oldest brother said, “You know, in ancient times, people would bathe in mud as a way to treat their skin.”
He slowly began smearing it on his arms, his neck, his face, his legs. We followed suit. And before long, we were covered from head to toes in the red earth. Continue reading