It got cold yesterday, and it was cold all day today. I love it. My favorite time of day when it's clear and cold is first thing in the morning or later at night, when the air is so still that I can go outside without putting on all my winter gear and experience the cold and quiet without feeling chilled myself—as long as I don't stand around experiencing too long! I just went out this evening to close up the chicken coop and make sure the hens were all cuddled up together, and it was a beautiful welcome peaceful moment after a day full of fun and conversation with kids and friends. Of course, this being the broken winter it is the cold won't last long... but I'm sure enjoying it while it lasts.
Sometimes when I'm driving on the highway I look at the cars around me and wonder if folks in them appreciate how nice it is to be driving something that you can trust completely to get them where they're going. Because I don't always feel that way. In fact, I think it's fair to say that for something like half of my driving life I've found myself in a vehicle that has something untrustworthy about it. We're in that half now. Our wonderful minivan, which we've had for almost six years now is showing signs that it doesn't have much left to give. At 233,000 miles that's not unexpected, but it is inconvenient... especially when it's not the only failing technology we're having to deal with lately.
I mentioned the couches and the oven a few months ago; the oven is still with us, and often it works like you would expect. But there are times when it doesn't, like this evening, which as you might imagine makes dinner prep kind of stressful. Leah spent the evening researching sub-$500 ovens, which might sound a little suspect until you think of how the only thing going wrong in our current model is the electronics behind all those fancy digital displays and push buttons. Maybe if we just go back to knobs and dials we'll be all right! (if we could, we'd go all the way back to wood and matches, but our kitchen isn't set up for that kind of thing). Then there's the fridge, which every couple weeks decides it's going to freeze the vegetables and thaw the freezer. All together it makes for a general background level of nervousness—interspersed with moments of existential terror. Which is about right for life here in the 21st century USA!
Wednesdays are usually home days for us, but we can never say no to a walk in the woods, so when the invitation came yesterday we headed off to Carlisle for a hike with members of the Greater Lowell Homeschoolers facebook group (including a significant overlap with our own co-op). That we'd never been to the Towle Land town forest made it even more enticing! Because we're getting good at this we were the first ones there, but it wasn't long before everyone gathered—a pretty good group, with six or seven adults and uncountable numbers of kids. It was good there wasn't much of a wait, because it was hard to hold the kids back from the trail.
Towle Land is a lovely woods: there are plenty of ups and downs on the trail, but nothing too steep, a generously-flowing stream, and plenty of vernal pool hollows still filled with water and ice this strange wet winter. Plus some awesome rocks to climb on!
With all the fun terrain we didn't just hike on through. In fact, I don't think we ever went farther than a couple hundred yards before we stopped to play on something or other. That's the way to make a mile-long hike take two hours! Two hours for us, at least; the group had varied levels of woods experience, so other people were done sooner. Especially the ones who didn't bring any food (you know we never make that mistake!). Also the ones who fell in puddles playing on the ice.
I enjoyed interacting with the (slightly) wider homeschool community, and meeting some new people. The boys were fine with it, but they were happiest when everyone else had headed home and they were free to play with their good friends from co-op. They can never get enough time with them. "Why can't they come over to our house after?!" is the constant refrain. Because everybody has lives to live! But don't worry: we've got full days of co-op fun with them today and tomorrow. Living the homeschooling dream!
The most immediate loss to me last week when the blog came to a crashing halt was the post I had just finished up at the time—a good four or five paragraphs about our wonderful experiences at a classical music concert. When I pushed "publish" it disappeared into the void where $_POST variables go without a script to process them. As you can see, the blog is now (mostly) up and running—but I'll never write those words again. Other parts of the website aren't fully recovered, though, and a more lasting loss comes from the missed week of weather reporting. See, I usually make a little note everyday on what the weather brought us—my record goes back years. It's of course theoretically possible for me to have made weather notes on a text document or even, you know, a piece of paper, but my brain just doesn't work that way.
And it's some crazy weather that I missed! Our winter is broken: it's been well above freezing almost every day for at least a week. There hasn't been any snow for two weeks, and it seems like what cold we have only comes with clear skies; whenever there's any precipitation it's, at best, snow mixing with rain. There's a winter storm watch for tomorrow, and it's for sleet. That doesn't do anyone any good. At least the ice was thick enough that it's still sticking around on the more sheltered ponds. We take what we can get. Even when we're not writing it down.