Unlike many of my friends, I thrived this winter on the invigorating air and blinding beauty of bright blue skies and white snow (before plowing). But I am ready for the suggestion of spring now in the air, with its lengthening days and the stirring of life anxious to be born. And then there is the mud, ubiquitous, oozing under foot, forming deep tire ruts in the lane. Mud, the curse of early spring, the stuff sleazy politicians dig up on one another. But mud is but the mixture of soil and water, the two critical ingredients in growing our food – the same ingredients that modern agriculture seems bent on destroying: half the earth’s topsoil has disappeared in the last 150 years and water scarcity is endemic in many parts of the world. So I was interested to read that the new farm bill reflects changing American priorities. It provides unprecedented support to small farmers, organic farming and healthy food, all three of which have received the back of the hand in previous bills written by big agriculture. Passed with bipartisan support (although no Republicans showed up for the signing), the bill reflects changing attitudes in the country more than in Congress, where some are still slinging mud at Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthy eating. But childhood obesity is down by 43%, and small local and organic movements are spreading across the landscape, spurred on by dedicated young farmers and demanding consumers. It is the season of mud -- and of hope.