I don't think the previous answers are quite right. In all of the following examples, use of the article is idiomatic, and leaving it out is not idiomatic:
I like the way a flag looks waving in the wind.
Don't drag my name through the mud. (I.e., don't say bad things about me publicly that will hurt my reputation.)
Doug doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain.
My dog likes to go in the water and fetch the ball.
A native speaker would never omit "the" in any of these sentences. That's because wind, mud, rain, and water are universal elements of nature. None of these sentences carries the implication that the listener already knows which wind, mud, rain, or water. These are all general statements about any wind, mud, rain, or water.
Similarly, the article is required in the following:
Artemis is goddess of the hunt.
Again, the idea is that "the hunt" is an abstract universal thing. Because it's universal, there's only one.
On the other hand, the following example shouldn't have "the" unless there is some specific mud that is already understood by the listener:
She smears mud on her face as part of her beauty regimen.
We'd only say "the mud" if, for example, she was buying special mud or using mud from a special creek where she always collected it.
They seem to be enjoying the sound of their feet in mud.
This sounds odd. The implication is that the children have never heard the sound of their feet in mud before.
They seem to be enjoying the sound of their feet in the mud.
This doesn't imply that the listener already knows which mud we're talking about. This is just the normal way of saying this, and if the listener hadn't already been told about some specific mud, they would just assume that the sentence referred to mud, the universal element of nature.
When I bounced this example off of my wife, a professor of French, her reaction was that this use of the definite article for a universal thing was extremely common in French, more so than in English. If we have French or Spanish speakers here, maybe they could comment.