on ice

It's been strangely warm around here lately. Very pleasant considered out of context, but hard for me to enjoy because of my existential dread around our changing climate. Also, I like cold and snow! And ice too. So before it warmed up last weekend we took a hike somewhere where I knew we could find ice to play on, and so we did.

Harvey and Zion on the pond playing hockey with sticks

enjoying it!

Not all the ponds were frozen: even before it got warm it wasn't super cold. But the Old Reservoir in Bedford has just tiny inflow and outflow, and it's completely sheltered by hills and trees, so it freezes beautifully. Plus it's in the middle of a delightfully varied and hilly town forest, so getting to the pond is almost as much fun as playing on it. The boys were minutemen, and shot me about 800 times on the hike in (then I snuck around behind their last ambush and gave it to em good!). But when we got to the ice, martial valor was forgotten. We played some stick hockey, we drew in the thin layer of snow, and of course we slid. I prefer my feet for the sliding, but some of us can commit even more fully.

Zion sliding on the ice on his belly

penguin mode

Because we expected that the ice would be going soon we made the most of it, and walked the whole length of the pond. That should hold our winter exploration longing for a little while... but I sure do hope it gets cold again soon!

Zion walking on a fallen tree over the ice, Harvey in the background

ice-splorers

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our weekend of driving

I'm not a fan of driving. As much as possible, I like to bike or walk—or failing that, just skip trips to places that are too far away. I don't take it to extremes: we use the car plenty, to go shopping, to go on homeschool outings, to see farther-away friends. But it's generally a priority to minimize our fossil-fueled miles. Of course, sometimes there are other priorities in life. Like playing Pokemon.

On Saturday, Harvey and I drove an hour and a half north to Rochester, New Hampshire, for a League Cup. Then we had to come home too. That felt like a lot of driving, so we figured we might take is easy Sunday. But then we didn't—we went to a League Challenge in Worcester that entailed another two hours, round trip. Five hours of driving in a weekend might not seem like anything at all if you're from Oklahoma or Montana, but it sure was a lot to us!

Of course, it wasn't all bad. If you discount the environmental impact, the cost of the gas, and the wear and tear on our lovely minivan (which with over 200,000 miles—mostly before us!—is nearing the end of its life), we had a great time road tripping together. We listened to music, we talked, and we sang. On the way home last night we enjoyed the sight of the giant, two-days-past-full moon rising in front of us. And when we were far from home we got to play cards with some great people that we can only see by driving all that way. So maybe it's worth it.

(I only wish I had remembered to fill the tank in New Hampshire, even though it wasn't even half-empty—they've got some cheap gas up there!)

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in a moment

I can't post pictures this morning because something is wrong with the cable that connects the camera to the computer. I blame Elijah, who was playing with it. There are some good ones—when I have access to them I'll replace this post with the real thing.

the beach for New Years

My parents traditionally observe New Years Day with a a visit to the beach at Plum Island. We've never gone with them before, but this year it was one of not so many chances for the boys to see their cousins, so we made it happen. It's not like it's ever too much of a hardship to visit a beach!

Zion standing on a sandbar on the beach at Plum Island

the sea

Because we can get out of the house quicker than some other people we made it up to Newburyport with over half an hour to spare, so we stopped at the Audobon visitor center at Joppa Flats. I'd never been in before—it's fantastic! We got to look through telescopes, play with shells and learn about birds, plus Lijah and I did some arts and crafts together. And there was a gift shop!

Lijah watercoloring a bird picture

just like John James Audobon!

Then after a quick lunch in the back of the car it was off to the beach! It was pretty mild when we were leaving home, but with the breeze the beach wasn't mild at all—in fact it felt downright arctic. So I was dismayed to see that Lijah hadn't actually brought a coat, and we had a little lesson on the difference between coats and sweatshirts. Luckily, running with cousins is a warming activity so he survived. We took a nice long walk on the beach and admired the moderate waves. As cold as it was, many of us stayed comfortably away from the water.

Lijah drawing in the sand with a stick

beach artist

But not everyone.

Harvey barefoot in winter coat running from the waves

look out!

Harvey and Zion each got pretty damp, actually. But the wind dried them off very nicely as the walk went on! After they were done teasing the water the cousins enjoyed collecting driftwood and just hanging out together. It was a lovely time.

Harvey, Zion, and Nisia walking and talking on the beach

beach cousins

Then we finished up the afternoon by driving to Cambridge to go out to eat at a fish restaurant. Maybe we could have found one in Newburyport, but Grandpa had stayed back home in Middlesex County—he was nursing a cold—and he's the one with the money, so we had to find him before we could have dinner. All in all, New Years Day felt very well celebrated, and I'm glad we got to be part of the fun.

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eggs and chickens

I've written about our hens' winter cessation of egg production before, more than once, and I almost did again about a month ago. But this year the drought didn't last long, and it's even better to write about the return of home-grown eggs. We've had six already, all from the young hens—which I know because they never managed to secure a place in the henhouse for themselves and so laid them on the ground in what was meant to be the chick house annex, where they're still sleeping. Or were, until I closed it off: I can't be crawling in there every day looking for eggs. We have nesting boxes for that! We'll see if being denied any other option will get them sorted out.

Sadly, we now have only three young hens: one of them disappeared just before the new year. There's been a very bold coyote around, one that we're calling a wolf, because it's so big. I noticed the hen was gone when I went to let them out in the morning—they had been putting themselves to bed—and though I looked all around I couldn't find any trace of her. I can't imagine anything could take a hen on snowy ground without leaving remains, but a 50-plus pound wolf (if I were to take a guess!) would probably have as good a shot as anything. We're sad—the missing hen even had a name, thanks to Harvey's friend Jack. Penguin, you'll be missed—and so will your eggs.

Surprise update, January 10: Penguin has been found! A neighbor from the next street over came to tell us that she had a hen that had been living in her side yard—she'd been feeding it for the past week or so. So we went and got her... not without a struggle, since she clearly thought she'd found a new home. Now she's back where she belongs, and we're going to keep her—and all the hens—locked up for a couple days until she gets settled in again.

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