You’ve seen it. (How could you not? It’s everywhere.) You’ve stepped over it, slipped and slid around it, and otherwise tried to avoid its ample grossness.
As the snowbanks recede in the sighing pre-spring sunlight, their gruesome underbellies emerge as a foul curbside ecosystem of mud, gunk, sludge, and junk. Old love seats ambitiously dragged to the street as spacesavers, now reborn as waterlogged monuments of mold and funk; abandoned leftovers from an ancient trash day, now rotten, rancid, and rusted in the wet, warming streets; a ghastly sidewalk sale of scattered trash, mucky pulp, and unthawed filth, splayed out for someone, anyone, to scrape it up and haul it elsewhere.
But while mankind has conjured dozens of words for snow over the centuries, we’ve never quite determined a name for the formidable stratum of crap that festers beneath it. To my parents, the streets of Boston currently resemble “post-apocalyptic feeding troughs for the walking dead,” but that’s not very concise. And while one friend was moved to describe these wintry leavings as “unintentional outdoor art installations” (specifically a soggy, distended mattress half-frozen to the side of a building), that beauty fades once the sun brings forth the stink.
So what to call these infernal vernal internals? Here are a few candidates. Feel free to suggest your own by commenting on this article, or send me a tweet, @MBrodeur.
• Cambridge crude
• pure evil