I love living in a four-season climate. It's just delightful to welcome each change—and few are more delightful than the beginning of warm weather in the spring. We had our first hint of it last week, and we grabbed it with both hands. Saturday was the warmest. It was great to see everyone outside: playing on playgrounds, walking, cycling. Us, we walk and ride bikes all year round, so when it gets hot that's not how we want to bust out. No, what we did Saturday morning was get out on the water!
I had smugly expected to be the only one hardy to want to be out on the river in March, but there were three other cars at the boat launch: three other people passionate about their boating. Not that all four of us Archibalds were equally passionate. Harvey and Zion would have been ok playing with friends on our street, and Lijah seems sometimes to wish boats were never invented. That's because he's too little to paddle, so he gets bored, and when he gets bored he gets hungry, and when we run out of food he gets angry... but then, that's true any time so we might as well deal with his moods while floating peacefully down the wide Concord River.
It's wider than usual too, after a wet winter. We didn't go far—there were friends to play with at home after all—but we did manage to explore the marshes beyond the river banks, which is a uniquely springtime experience. And we only got stuck once, on the branches of partially submerged bushes, and nobody had to swim to get us free. We also landed on what, last year, we dubbed Mosquito Island; this early is the perfect time to explore it, since we didn't see a single one of the eponymous beasties.
The whole trip wasn't much longer than an hour (and the rest of the day saw plenty of running and jumping and even water balloons) but it was a great first outing. Here's to lots more in the next few months!
You know, it's actually kind of hard to tell what the weather's doing these days. It was rainy and cold this morning, then by lunchtime we were eating outside on the porch in the bright sunshine. By that point it was warm enough for Harvey to be in shorts and short sleeves, but the rest of us were still wearing our long underwear. At one point Lijah was barefoot but wearing mittens; then he took them off and left them out in the garden, where they must now be blowing around in the wild wind that came up late afternoon. Hooray for spring!
When Harvey was small we went to Drumlin Farm all the time. Really, he was there at least once a week. Zion too, but he didn't have as many years to totally appreciate it, because when Harvey was about six he got bored of everything the farm had to offer, and our visits slowed to a trickle. Or maybe even stopped entirely, because in advance of our visit earlier this week Lijah had no memories of the place at all. Even the other boys' recollections were hazy, but as we pulled into the parking lot it all came rushing back to them. "I remember that hill! I remember that path! I remember that rusty old plow!" And it was all just as fun as they recalled.
The main reason we were there was to see the young lambs and kids, and they didn't disappoint. We stopped by the lambs first, and we were in time to watch all the sheep get let out of the barn for the morning. They were very enthusiastic, especially the slightly older lambs. "Gamboling" is the word, I think. Everyone there felt the need to video their enthusiasm for life and the great outdoors.
At the next barn the kids were even more enthusiastic, but our own kids were over the baby animal thing and ready to move on to places where they could play. So we did the horse barn, and the egg sorting in the chicken house, and the old tractor climbing structure. I enjoyed visiting the greenhouse (I'm jealous). By this time it was the middle of the day and we had the place about to ourselves as all the families with preschoolers headed home to lunch. The friends we were there with eventually did likewise, but we were—of course!—prepared with a picnic, so we were able to dine right there on the farm, by the big rhododendron forest. Then the boys entertained themselves in the forest for the next hour or so, til I called them away to run some races on the hill and then finally head home for a well-needed rest.
It was lovely. The next day we got a mailer from the Audobon Society, completely coincidentally, advertising a half-price membership option. I think I'll take them up on it!
Yesterday was too beautiful for any boys to want to go to Pokemon League, so I went by myself to uphold the honor of the family and fulfill my duties as a League Leader (sounds so impressive!). At the end of the session Michael commented on how many jackets and sweatshirts had been left behind by kids playing over the last month. I took a look at the coat hooks, and noticed one jacket that was very familiar: clearly Harvey's. Then I saw a sweatshirt of his, and then another jacket. Yes, there were lots of items left behind, and more than half of them were left by one child. My child. Good thing he doesn't tend to get cold, or he wouldn't have been able to survive the last few weeks of chilly spring!
Harvey is currently plowing through the Harry Potter series. He's about a third of the way through the last book right now, so I have some hopes of speaking to him again at some point tomorrow evening. This is his second run at the series; he started reading it the first time after a friend recommended it to him last year, but got stalled out in the middle of book four. This time he came to it on his own, and he's going strong to the end. You can read of my mixed feelings about the books here and here and here; given that, I think I've done a fair job of not being too scathing about the stories. Actually, as we talk about them I'm surprised by how much I remember!
Still, I continue to assert (privately) that better books exist. Like Dial-A-Ghost, which I picked up at the library books sale this past weekend. You could make an argument that Eva Ibbotson did what J.K. Rowling did first, and better (she seems to have been a very good person for not minding particularly much when Rowling made the big time). Certainly, her books have more humor and liveliness. It's natural to wonder why Rowling's work gained such wide popularity and cultural dominance while Ibbotson's, though successful enough, didn't. I don't think it's only the publishing juggernaut that lined up behind Harry Potter; it seems to me that Rowling pioneered a certain sort of authorial focus that leaves her books empty of everything but plot and one-dimensional characters acting out their roles like the guys in a sitcom. That's a satisfying combination. Maybe I'll pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban again and see what I'm missing.
We've been busy the last couple weeks! Here's some images of what's been going on.
In the first half of April we celebrated nine days of Patriots Day festivities in Bedford and Lexington. Things kicked off here in Bedford with the pole capping parade; I've written before how cool it is that we get all the minute companies to start the season, and this year was no exception.
It wasn't all guns and aggression; there was lots of lovely fife and drum music too, and a handful of colonial women and children.
The weather was beautiful—clear and mild—so for the first time ever we actually stayed for the pole capping itself. We were there with friends, and all the kids endured the politicians' speeches without complaint (it helped that we gave them snacks). Our friend Andrew, who moved to town a couple years ago, said it was the most Bedford thing he'd ever experienced. It was especially fun cheering for our neighbor Samantha, who won an award as the most notable high school senior and had to sit up front looking respectable through all the speechifying. Then they put the hat on the pole.
The following Saturday was again warm and beautiful, perfect weather for cycling to Lexington to watch the big reenactment at Tower Park. I take pictures of it every year and they're all about the same, but it's such an experience I couldn't resist yet another round.
One difference this year is that, having biked, we were in position to watch the proceedings from the back side. That was great for the first part of the battle, but less optimal as the fighting moved east with a swamp between us and the action. I followed some other people into the woods to see what we could see, but the minutemen yelled at us so we had to go back. Unlike the more famous reenactment in Lexington Center, though, this one is big enough that there's always something to see.
The weather was looking iffy for Monday's parade, the highlight of the week's festivities. It was cancelled last year due to rain, so we were really hoping not to miss it again. Morning rain led us to cancel our own plans for a pre-parade picnic in Lexington, but things looked fine for the parade itself at 2:00 so at quarter to one we gathered up our three-family group of cyclists and headed out. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until my mom called me ten minutes into the ride to let us know that, due to more rain in the forecast, the parade start had been moved up to 1:15. Yikes!
So we hurried. Zion was feeling week (he had skipped Saturday's ride because of sickness) so I carried him and his bike, but all the other kids (and adults) did great, and we made it the five miles up the hill in just 28 minutes—in plenty of time to find a good spot along the strangely empty parade route, and fortify ourselves after all our hard work with fried dough and Italian ice. We're always glad to be out for a parade.
Besides the reenactors and bands—and there were some fine bands this year—the parade highlights Lexington's increasingly diverse cultural makeup. We all liked getting up close and personal with this dragon.
We were talking smack about the Shriners as their first units rolled by, but then we had to take it all back when the mini-big rigs—pretty great themselves—were followed up by a trio of motorized tricycles—basically powered big wheels. Two of them could drift and the third could turn on two wheels. Very exciting.
After the parade was exciting too. The decision to start the parade early was an inspired one, because just as the last unit went by our spot the sky turned dark, and within five minutes the first drops were falling (the parade still had close to a mile to go past us, so sorry to those folks!). We were prepared, and got everything packed up and everyone into raincoats in record time.
Then the ride home featured weather that ranged from drizzle to torrential downpour. It was actually pretty great. I consider Patriots Day to have been celebrated.
Time feels like it's zipping by these days. I have no idea how I'm going to write about Easter before something else noteworthy happens, never mind writing about prosaic things like the garden or what books we're reading (worthwhile topics both!). Yesterday I had another experience of moving forward in time (at a greater-than-usual rate) when I biked into work in Cambridge. See, in Bedford our leaves are barely out now, but as I made my way east through Arlington I noticed them getting bigger and bigger. By the time I hit Spy Pond I felt like they were a full three or four days more advanced than our trees at home. So I took a picture.
Microclimates are interesting. We had a hard frost Sunday night, and I wouldn't be surprised if we had more even into May. I feel like here in the valley of the Concord River we can have cold weather two weeks later than, say, my parents' house on the down slope towards the Atlantic Ocean. But I don't know. The only real purpose of this post was so I don't come across the photo above months later and wonder why on earth I took it. In just a couple weeks I suppose leaves will be commonplace! But at the moments they seemed pretty special.