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22 February 2017

Back Outside

After what feels like about six solid weeks of sick family, and way too much winter, we got a reprieve: everybody got healthy just in time for a beautiful February thaw. It's crazy warm: got up to 60 today, but it really shouldn't be above freezing here. Everybody is celebrating by playing outside. The paper had a picture of people golfing on a green that was a least half white still with snow, wearing sweatshirts. That pretty much sums this week up. This far north, people know not to let the warm weather pass you by, whenever it happens to hit. And we were out there with the best of them, drinking in the awesome weather. Actually, I kind of wonder if it's not the start of an early spring: yesterday I saw pelicans, and today there were blackbirds singing. We're supposed to get some three inches of wintery slush and snow this weekend, but today it was beautiful, so today's top priority for school was to be out in it.

Our park floods every spring. It's so interesting to watch. The ice actually sinks, and then the water is on top. Or maybe the ice melts top down. I really don't know. But the ice is at the bottom of all the puddles. And it's a regular thing each spring.

The first area where we really stopped was shaded, so it was still almost completely frozen. But so muddy along the edges. Which was great. We looked at deer tracks and some other ones that we never did quite figure out what they are. Something cat-sized, with probably 5 little toes that left perfectly round holes behind. Sadly, the pictures are junk. Maybe I'll see if I can photoshop them. My friend and I set and tried to figure out what kind of animal might have made them, but we never did decide. If I can get them to photoshop nicely, then I'll probably do some asking around to see if I can find somebody who knows more than me to tell me about them. I was pretty excited to just figure out where to find them. Two different kinds today!

While we were trying to figure out the tracks, the kids were working on the big cedar tree they've dubbed "Talia's Tree", after the tree in the Percy Jackson series. My friend's kids figured out what they've all wanted for ages: how to get into it. My kids tried hard, but didn't quite make it up. Not for lack of effort, though.

Her family is more athletic than ours, and they had shoes better suited for climbing than what we'd gotten for our kid (who knew snow boots need to be able to go up trees!!) and I think that both are factors in why my kids didn't get up. I have a feeling that this will be a new favorite destination, though, and that as soon as I let them wear their tennis shoes the boys will be working hard to get up there. Good things going on all around. Looks like a cozy tree.

There's this lovely field of grass. We stayed on the path; but I love the sound of the wind in the grass, and it's just so pretty today. Not many birds there today... but the kids did sound like kids do when they're outside after being cooped up for a while. Lots of running and yelling and laughter. That sounded nice, too.

It's hard to tell here, but these mushrooms were half-drowned. They didn't seem to object. Hardly even discolored, even after sitting in so much ice water for however long. I was a little surprised at how sturdy they seemed to be.

We stopped for a while and had a lovely game of Pooh-sticks. The water was going under the little bridge quite quickly, but a surprising lot of the things they kids dropped in the water never made it out the other side. They all tried a nice variety of sticks, leaves, grass... all sorts of whatever was handy. Big bunches, one by one. I think they tried every variation.

 I was pleasantly surprised at how dry they all stayed: we'd warned them early on that if they played in ice water and got wet at it, then the outing would end early. It was warm, but not that warm. Even with sleeves being rolled up so they could get the "river rocks" at the bottom of the runoff, nobody got seriously wet. They did, however, discover that 8 inches of ice water can numb your fingers pretty quick.

When us Moms had decided that the water play had gone long enough, and they were getting adventurous enough that we wanted a new scene for exploration, we headed off to the "Stick Shack". Where the big kids happily played their Minecraft game (cracks me up that they call it that -- it's the same game my sister and I played, gathering stuff and putting it places and pretending it's other stuff), and the little kids climbed their tree. We won't let the big kids play in this tree, but it's just right for our small people.

The way that Peanut got up there kind of blew my mind: she stuck her foot up in the tree, right about the height of her ear, then sort of just... stood up. I'd been about to suggest that she try the nice fork in the tree that was belly button height, when suddenly it was apparent that no advice was necessary. Sometimes she surprises me. She keeps telling me she's getting Big... I need to start believing her, I think.

So winter's not done with us, and it'll probably be a while, maybe a month or more, before we have a day as beautiful as this one, but it sure was nice while we had it! It'll remind us that the end is in sight as we move from record highs to heavy snow: tonight's map says maybe as much as 10 more inches, if it doesn't all turn into freezing rain. I'd rather have the snow, but I doubt that Mother Nature is taking opinions!


Anne Chovies said...

Maybe the strange track was just a cat. They're less common but some cats do have an extra toe. Grandma had one for many years when I was a kid.

Rozy Lass said...

I know what you mean about enjoying the weather. On Tuesday I enjoyed a "Tea Party" on the front lawn with some charming little friends of mine. My husband and I have "adopted" them as grandchildren and just have a great time with them whenever we can. Today, Thursday, is cooler, breezy and raining. Snow is forecast for tomorrow. Sure glad I got out in the sunshine when I did! Thanks for sharing all your pictures.

Brenda Prince said...

What an amazing nature walk. I would enjoy the sound of the wind through the tall grasses as well.

Mother of 3 said...

We've tried to spend a good hour or so outside each day this week soaking up the nice weather. We're finding signs of spring with vernal pools filling up and I can't help but wonder what all those frogs and such will do when we get more ice and snow.

Kym Thorpe said...

how loveky that you were able to get out and enjoy the warm weather! Looks like a great park and a good time. we've had extra warm weather here too - a nice break before the next bout of winter weather that is sure to come!

Erin Slocum said...

We've had some wonderful weather lately too. It's so nice! I also love the sound of the wind blowing through prairie grass. So relaxing.

Annette V said...

could be an otter?? They have cat like paws. Might be an idea. But yes, the unseasonably warm weather drives us outside as well.

Ree said...

I would love to have an outdoor place like yours! My girls love climbing trees and we haven't really seen a river up close (or even a pond or stream with flowing water like yours). Weather's heating up here as well--I think we're at 28-30 C :D

Melissa Batai said...

It must have felt so nice to get out and enjoy the warm weather and nature! I hate feeling cooped up in the winter.

a49erfangirl said...

The weather has been absolutely crazy here too. We go from snow to rain and to a warm up and recycle and do over. Last week we got into the 60s too. The kids and I went to the zoo and the wild life sanctuary all in one day. It was so great to get outside and enjoy the weather. Suppose to start warming up again into the 50s on Sunday again. I loved seeing all the different pictures you took. Looks like the kids had fun enjoying the weather as well.

Ritsumei said...

Still hoping to work on that track a little more. I'll have to look more closely at otter tracks online - a quick glance says those are about the right size, and some of the pictures have no claw marks and perfectly round pads, like ours do. The other most likely candidate is cat. I think I want to see if I can get some more experienced eyes on them... just need to find time to play with the pictures a little!


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