As eight-year-old Blake Day stepped to the plate yesterday in the Cambridge Common not only did he face tough pitching but also some obstacles along the base path: mud.
Muddy parks have delayed soccer games in the city, deterred dog walkers and impeded baby strollers But Blake, for one, doesn't seem to mind.
"Mud is a lot of fun. We had a mudball fight yesterday. We didn't care if we have to clean our shoes," says Blake.
Record amounts of snow this winter combined with the last week's warm spell has softened the turf on the city's parks and fields, transforming Cambridge's open space into mud bowls.
That suits Blake fine, but for others trying to enjoy the recent sunny afternoons the muddy parks have been other than fun and games.
Informal soccer games were being played yesterday in spite of the mud. But all Cambridge Youth Soccer games have been postponed for a week due to muddy fields, the aftermath of recent heavy rain and snowfalls.
Alice Houghton, who directs the youth soccer program, says the league decided to delay the games to preserve the city's fields. "It's a terrible inconvenience," she says.
Jennifer A. Young, a frequent park stroller, says the muddy fields are an inconvenience for her daily walk with her toddler.
"We can't walk across the field to come over to the playground. We have to take the long way around and the kids can't run on the field," says Young.
Young says that if the city seeded the parks before the start of winter, the extra grass would improve drainage and prevent mud formation in the spring. The grass would also be less likely to be torn out, said Young, pointing to clumps of grass ripped out by an ongoing game of soccer.
Cambridge Councillor Jonathan S. Myers, a frequent park stroller, says that the excess mud is "a drain-off issue." But Myers' solution is a little less complex than Young's: "Wear old clothes," he says.
Harald Saetran, a visiting scholar at the Center for European Studies, says the mud, a sign of the changing seasons, is simply to be expected.
Saetran says the fields are beginning to dry out. But if April showers make this month as wet as March--which had the second highest precipitation of any month in Cambridge history--that may not last for long.
For Peter D. Panic, a Harvard Square street juggler who was playing baseball in the common yesterday, the sight of a muddy park inspires theatrical notions.
"A couple of days ago we could have had 'Shakespeare in the Mud' on this field," says Panic, referring to satirical plays done in muddy arenas.
Fellow juggler Daniel J. Foley says the best strategy in muddy sports situations is to rough it out. "Stop lachrymating," Foley says. "Just play the game."