Mud Blossoms

You know, a funny thing about life is that you do get to points where you feel like you’ve seen it all. I mean, no, not Paris, but within your little realm, that you have seen or at least imagined every possible thing that might happen.

So, this morning, I was out walking the dog for the first time since this damn cold and I was lamenting not getting new shoes since mine are worn smooth and so they’re incredibly slick on the frost, when I realized that I could step on the mole hills and gain traction because they had a little give.

God bless the mole hills. They’re such a pain in the ass 3/4 of the year but I was happy to see them today.

But, please, examine this picture carefully and tell me if you have ever, ever seen anything like this. I was cutting across the AT&T yard when I noticed about a million of these. You may have to enlarge the photo by clicking on it to get a really good look, but they appeared to be very tiny, beautiful geysers of frozen mud.

My hypothesis is that the ground was already weak along the mole hills, and that the mole tunnels filled with water earlier in the week, and that last night it was cold enough that the water in the mole tunnels froze and since water expands when it freezes and the tops of the tunnels were weak, it allowed for this weird almost Play-dough protruding out of the ground.

But in all my years, I have never seen that before. It’s weird how you can be surprised just walking through the AT&T yard, you know?

Anyway, on my walk, I was thinking a lot about the Spiritualist movement and how it was a weird kind of element of the Progressive movement. The same white people who were abolitionists and suffragists in the 19th century were, in no small number, also Spiritualists. So, this morning, I was thinking about the weirdness of the Spiritualists towards the end of their heyday all getting Native American spirit guides (something that happened a lot in the 70s and 80s, our 70s and 80s, when mediumship had a resurgence).

I was thinking, on my walk, that, to really understand this, you have to be able to keep two different images before you. Yes, there’s an element of incredible racism–viewing the Other as a site of spiritual knowledge and guidance, but not even the real Other, just your imagining of him. And I think it’s important to keep that knowledge before us at all times. When you have run a people off and killed them and stolen their land, when you turn around to be all “But they are so wise and knowledgeable and we love them!” it is never going to not be deeply problematic.

But I’m also considering the other thing–which is that Spiritualism was widely popular along side of Manifest Destiny and Bloody Kansas and so on. And, in a way, it serves as a powerful counternarrative to “We can do what we want. God gave us white people this country.” Spiritualists were always hearing from the spirits of slaves and Native Americans and other crime victims often through the mouths of women. Hell, even the Foxes thought they were hearing from a murdered peddler at first. Even if we think that the Spiritualists were full of shit, they were full of shit in a way that served as a strong counter-critique to the prevailing narrative of what it meant to be an American.

It’s something.

Anyway, there’s no way I’m going to be able to thematically tie mud blossoms back into Spiritualism, but just consider this the internet equivalent of going on our walk with us. The post just peters out not because the thoughts are done, but because we’re back at the house.

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