It is time we gave “mud” back its good name. This was especially evident at the “Samish Bay Bivalve Bash” held this last Saturday at Taylor Shellfish Farms. This year’s Bash, the 8th Annual, was noted by many visitors I talked with as being the best one yet for organization, especially with regard to transportation. Since there is virtually no parking at the farm, two shuttle bus routes were set up. Continuous service was provided, one to the village of Blanchard and the other to Bow-Edison High School. They were fast, courteous, and both the shuttle and parking were free!
The Bash, which benefits a number of clean water awareness programs, is most noted for “The Mud Run.” This is undoubtedly the toughest 250 yard race anywhere in the galaxy (100 yards for kids.) The defining element is a three-foot layer of Samish Bay’s finest non-living ingredient, its slate-gray mud. It has the consistency of quick-drying cement and is deeeeep. It is so deep that a number of “runners” who fell had to be extracted by rescuers. If a runner hadn’t duct-taped his or her shoes on, those shoes would almost certainly resurface as a fossil sometime in the far future.
Not to be outdone by The Mud Run, the “World’s Only Oyster Shell Sculpture Contest” (according to Bash officials) lasts longer than the run and provides heaps of oyster shells for individuals and families to test their architectural and artistic hand with the world’s most difficult construction material. If the Romans had used oyster shells for their aqueducts, we would still be using buckets to carry our water. The Bash is really a family affair. Crab races, shucking contests and a mud-tug-of-war among other activities filled the day.
What fills in between the activities is, of course, food. A number of local restaurants provided a wide variety of incredibly delicious shellfish fare including oysters (raw and grilled,) mussels, and clams. There were salmon and hot dog BBQs for the non-bivalve-consuming crowd as well. The topper of this food frenzy was a layer of real whipped cream supported underneath by a combination of fresh raspberries and blueberries heaped on a shortcake made for the gods. All of that washed down by an award winning Washington state chardonnay, local microbrew, or fruit pop.
One thing missing from this great bit of Northwest Americana was any evidence of a political campaign. I considered that to be a blessing and it got me thinking about the mud. The most common usage of the word “mud” these days is in politics, as in "mud-slinging" or the similar "muckraking". Mud-slinging is the practice of trying to discredit political opponents by spreading lies, distortions, and/or innuendo about them. According to several web sources it derives from the Latin phrase, "fortiter calumniari, aliquia adhaerebit," or "throw plenty of dirt and some of it will stick." So it looks as if mud-slinging, or at least “dirt-throwing” has been with humanity for a long time, probably since the first politician. The term “muckraking” is attributed to President Teddy Roosevelt. He was referring to reporters who only focused “exclusively on corruption without providing a positive outlook for social problems.” (iAmericanSpirit.) Whether or not "muck" and "mud" are synonymous, the concepts seem closely related. I suspect muckraking has really been around a long time as well, but under a different name.
We certainly seem to have more than enough slingers and rakers these days, to the point where all that slinging and raking has become quite wearisome. It was really refreshing to find out what mud is really all about, like races and kid’s laughter and eating all those bivalves under Northwest summer skies. All because of that wonderful Samish Bay mud. I say we give mud its proper due and remove all references to mud from the political lexicon. I can think of far worse things to throw at a politician than mud. How about another politician? So going forward, please use the term “politician-slinging” and “politician-raking” when talking or writing about those dispiriting and demeaning practices used too often and by too many in our political arenas.