Having grown up in Kentucky, Ohio and Iowa, I’d never heard of mudrooms until I came to Maine. I soon learned that mudrooms are where every Mainer begins and ends their every day.

Busiest during the state’s inevitable May and September mud seasons, this indispensable entryway provides year-round practical use. Mudrooms reveal seasonal climate changes, along with whatever outdoor activities may be pursued by individual family members. The box piled high with cords of wood that required weeks of sweaty sawing can also be frequently found here.

Typically located off a kitchen or laundry room, mudrooms welcome everyone on their way to or from the great outdoors in all seasons. Most have stone or some other type of flooring that does not get dangerously slippery when wet, or has been thoughtfully lined with ribbed rubber mats.

Once hidden behind closed doors, mudrooms are becoming increasingly glamorous. An internet search offers creative design options, some including architectural plans that promise “Mudrooms can be beautiful!” One fetching illustration shows stenciled walls and suggests combining it with a game room or media center. Another example, in an 18th-century farmhouse at the end of a scenic dirt road, offers “romantic faded opulence.”

Whatever the choice, the Maine mudroom requires a spot to sit on while removing boots. One family I know acquired pews from a church destined for demolition. Beneath this prayer perch, boots of all sizes and styles are lined up as if marching in parade.

Large hooks above mudroom seats are useful for hanging coats, jackets and scarves, not to mention dog leashes, otherwise mislaid. Storage units for additional winter gear are generally found nearby with cubbies for mittens and gloves, while backpacks and bug spray find proper places on overhead shelves near umbrellas, with sleds and skis leaning against walls. One might even discover a galvanized tub upon a table, with running water nearby for foot baths or washing an unhappy pet. A hunter I know proudly hung his deer antler trophies on mudroom walls since his wife stubbornly barred them from appearing inside the house.

Now that my husband and I have become Maineaics, we pause for a spell in every mudroom, removing our boots and depositing them dripping upon the boot tray, then hanging outdoor clothing upon hooks before being welcomed by our friends.

The September before we relocated to midcoast Maine, our daughter was married in an outdoor ceremony here. As expected of every mother of the bride, I dressed up, although I was careful not to select too-high heels. Nevertheless, as the vows were exchanged, I sensed myself slowly sinking into the mud. There were slurping sounds as my feet were sucked deep into the goo and disappeared.

Amid the crowd of well-wishers, my brand-new son-in-law, born and bred in this state, made his way to my side.

“If you’re going to move to Maine,” he whispered kindly, “you really need to rethink your footwear.”

— Special to the Telegram

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