Winter’s back is broken. It topped 50 degrees on the Front Porch thermometer yesterday, so warm I had to take off my coat as I walked the Indomitable Moxie through the nearby park. It felt so good to feel that strong March sunshine beating down on us as we splashed our way around the walking trails. By next week, the snow will be gone, revealing all the mud and buried treasure that has laid hidden since November.
In college the big thaw was always a cause for celebration. Slipping, and sliding through the mud in our duck boots on our way to and from class, the inside of our brains itched with cabin fever and the need for desperate, pointless, acts of recklessness. Spring officially began with a bonfire somewhere, and a keg of cheap beer. Like the ceremonial first pitch of a ball game, throwing out the first drunk was the official start of the summer. Being dorm dwellers, and avowed Anti-Greek types, we had to be more creative that most when planning our annual rite of spring.
At some point, one of us had discovered an abandoned boy scout camp in the hills above Parishville, on the edge of Adirondack park. It could have been a movie set for a teen slasher flick. It was at the end of a long dirt road, that wound deep back into the woods. The road was impassible at one point, as a gully had been cut across it to keep people out. However, to a group of aspiring engineers this was a challenge, and one trip to a hardware store later, we had fashioned a rudimentary plank bridge that we could remove behind us, to keep the authorities from discovering us.
Money was collected, and a few bushels of clams, and a keg was procured. On a Friday evening in Mud Time 1987, the residents of Brooks 2 arrived at the abandoned camp in a caravan of vehicles. It wasn’t long before a fire was roaring, and clams were steaming on the shores of the pond. There under the starlight, we danced and drank like savages in some primeval ritual. Eventually our firewood supply was exhausted. At that point people started removing wood from inside of the abandoned buildings, and building the fire ever higher. The flames reached 30 feet into the air, before we began to succumb to the effects of the beer, and slump off one by one to find a place to sleep.
This became an annual event for us, but as the years progressed, and the boys succumbed to the fraternity dark side, our numbers shrank. Finally, the last year at Clarkson we just held the Spring kegger in the field out back of the soap shop. Oddly, I think girls outnumbered boys at that one, but by then I was deep into “The Great American Novel” and did not take advantage of the rare proximity of cold beer and warm coeds. Ah, foolish youth…
I may be in my 40’s now, but I have to admit, there is still a part of me that long’s for a good kegger around a bonfire somewhere in the country. It just doesn’t seem like Mud Time without it.