Those who prefer mud pie also prefer jeans, but that much should be obvious. There’s a horse or two in her past, a neighbor’s whiskered grass chewer or a frizzy pony tethered on the wrong side of a chain link fence where she tests her fingers’ reach, her unrotten apples. A goat won’t do. When parents yell and sisters pinch, when safety locks her in the house all August until even her marrow is air conditioned, she thinks about that horse. The Amish have a saying, If someone throws mud in your face, let it dry. It will fall off. This pie-lover likes that idea. Not to turn the other cheek but to bore her gaze full into the slap, to wither it with attention, to ride that dirt into the ground.
5 cups dirt
1 cup water
Dirt to water ratio varies according to moisture content of available dirt and how firm or soft the pie-maker prefers her mud. I like a soft-cement consistency with a few handfuls of bark dust and pebbles for texture.
In the hollow of an old tire, mix half the dirt and all the water, then slowly add the rest of the dirt to prevent lumps. Add bark dust and pebbles if desired. Mold with your hands until the mud evenly fills the tire. Set aside to dry. To refresh a mud pie, add water.