posts tagged with 'ice'

seizing the warmth

The boys spent most of the warm spell outside, naturally, but to really take advantage of the weather we needed to go for a hike. We did that on Friday, and we got to bring Zion's good friend Nathan along with us. The Archibald boys were in full warm-weather gear. I did make them bring sweatshirts along, just in case; that was totally unnecessary. But as I mentioned in the other post there was enough snow that they weren't entirely thrilled to be wearing sandals. Not that anyone complained!

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan hiking in the snow--Harvey and Zion in shorts and sandals

sandals in the snow

And there were also long stretches with no snow at all. Even though he was wearing his snow boots (incidentally the only footwear he owns at this point) Lijah was happiest to be able to walk on dry dirt: his footing wasn't so good on the icy snow. Even there, though, he was happy to hold my hand, and I didn't need to carry him at all.

Lijah looking cute in a snowless forest-scape

the littlest hiker

When we reached the old reservoir we noticed two things: the ice cover was still just about complete, and there was a giant white pine that had fallen onto—into—the ice.

Zion and Nathan testing the slushy ice

do you think it'll bear?

Actually, the first thing the boys noticed was the bench where I had told them we could eat lunch—we've been there before—but it was still too early so I told them to run and play for a while first. Naturally they had to try the ice, and when Zion didn't hear cracking he announced it was safe. What he didn't notice was that he was slowly sinking in what was, really, just a layer of dense slush. Nathan actually stood still long enough that water started welling up around his feet. It was pretty cool.

After lunch I couldn't resist venturing out onto the fallen tree trunk; after he saw me neither could Zion. He went farther than me, too. I suppose he was determined to get out into the middle of the pond somehow.

Zion walking out on a giant fallen tree over the ice

no hesitation

Nathan and Harvey were more cautious, but they did get out a little ways too. I wonder what will happen to the tree in the summer? How long will it be laying there before it decays? The wood is totally sound—it was just the roots that gave up, as the dirt around them at the edge of the pond washed away. Clearly more expedition will be necessary in months to come. We stand ready to undertake them.

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a recent outing

The last couple days it seems inappropriate to post anything not related to the ongoing disaster that is our new presidential administration. I've been staying up late reading news and analysis and getting myself too worked up to sleep; we're going to have to start protesting so I can work of some of the rage. And also get out in the woods.

Zion and Harvey running down a trail

runnning to the woods

On Saturday the whole family snuck a way for a short hike up by the old reservoir. We were a little late for the morning's sunshine, but even under clouds it was lovely to be out all together. Lijah especially appreciated having Mama along.

Leah carrying Lijah across a little bridge

this is how he hikes with Mama

I was surprised to see that, despite the crazy warm weather, the pond was still completely iced over. Unfortunately the ice was thin and totally rotten around the edges, leaving no way for us to get out on it. The boys still tried out every possible spot just to be sure.

the boys testing the ice on the pond

testing the ice

Rascal is less cautious; he found a couple spots to "swim", and as we reached the end of our circumnavigation finally discovered a solid-enough spot to get onto the ice. Any thoughts we might of had about following him were dashed when he broke through on his way back to shore. We laughed; I don't think he minded.

Rascal out on the ice

he has better weight distribution that we do

It was lovely to be out getting fresh air and exercise. We'll have to do it again soon; when we're not downtown holding signs.

Zion jumping over a stream, Harvey waiting his turn

practical broad-jumping

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ice and ice cream

Harvey and Zion walking to a hockey goal far away across frozen Fawn Lake

ice outing

The forecast yesterday morning called for rain starting in the afternoon and continuing through the next day, but the sky outside was shining blue and the air mild. Just the weather you want for a winter cycling adventure! So after a nominal amount of schoolwork the boys and I headed out into the wide world. Our ultimate goals were to visit friends' almost-new-house (pending inspection) and buy some Bedford Farms ice cream for a celebratory almost-new-house dinner. Of course there were lots of adventurous stops on the way—and, as is our habit, a picnic lunch.

the boys eating a picnic in the woods

picnic bench

That was at Fawn Lake, our first destination, which we reached after two and a half miles of riding on the sticky-mud-over-frozen-gravel surface of the Narrow Gauge Rail Trail. After lunch we explored along the shore, with Harvey and Zion mostly interested in finding a place to get out onto the ice. We don't need the news to tell us about the dangers of possible thin ice: it was plenty apparent most spots along the shore, with water spurting up from cracks if you so much as touched it. Of course, the danger there was only wet feet—still, something we wanted to avoid with miles to go before our journey was through.

With Harvey leading the charge we headed along a narrow path fringed by beaver-downed trees (all the remaining trees have collars of hardware cloth to keep them unchewed and upright). Towards the south end of the pond, in the shadow of the trees, we found an area where the ice was solid right up to the shore. There was even a hockey goal out there as a testament to the solidity of the surface. Harvey and Zion were delighted and headed right out to it; I stayed closer to shore with Lijah who, since our skating trip in December, wants nothing at all to do with ice.

Harvey and Zion walking on the ice

an essential part of any winter adventure

The bigger boys could have stayed all day, but after promising them a return trip another day I got everyone packed up to head back out on the road. Well, not the road, exactly, since the next part of our expedition was to pioneer a route through the woods in the direction of our friends' house (almost-new). There were plenty of paths, all visible on the map; the only questions were a) which one would actually get us where we wanted to go and b) which one were we currently on. Neither was ever really clear. But the exploring was delightful all by itself, with twisty singletrack up and down hills that challenged Harvey and I on both ascents and descents.

Harvey pushing his bike up some steep singletrack in the woods, brothers following

pathfinding

Our cargo bike is wonderful, but it's not the most sure-footed off-road ride; and worst of all it has terrible ground clearance. Luckily Zion and Lijah were happy to run in the woods for those segments where I had to lift it over logs every twenty feet. We had maybe a half mile of that, and then just a little more on the road til we reached the house. The boys were disappointed we couldn't go in—not even in the yard—so we had a little discussion about what it takes to close a home sale. And we sure hope the closing goes well! It's always nice to have more friends in town, and nice for friends to go from 10 miles away to 3 1/2, especially when we can do three of those miles off-road (though to be honest, where they live now we can do 9 3/4 of the ten miles off-road, thanks to fortunate siting of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway... but that's just a coincidence!).

After gazing at the house from the side of the street, we turned towards home—now riding along the not-entirely-comfortable shoulder of Rt 4. But the car noises and exhaust was bearable knowing that where the road gets into town a prize awaited!

three boys enjoying cones in front of Bedford Farms

winter's snow and ice cream

All in all it was a wonderful outing, and we were more than ready to get home, right on schedule for nap time.

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first "spring" outing

With the winter as warm as it's been we've been able to expand out outings a little bit beyond the usual suspects of museums, libraries, and indoor play spaces. But so far this year we've been making wintery choices: playgrounds, sure, but by car and with indoor destinations as well. Today wasn't super warm but it was bright and sunny, with a distinct springlike feel, so I thought we'd try out our warm-weather outing model: pack some bags, hop on the bikes, and see where we end up!

Harvey geared up for a cold-weather cycling expedition

ready to go

After a brief stop at the auto-parts store (trying to get the van ready to be inspected next month) we ended up by the old reservoir, where we dropped the bikes and took to the woods.

the three boys in a tree

another tree pose

It was great to be hiking again. And naturally, every hike needs a snack break! I'm working on distributing responsibility, so Harvey got to pack the snacks. That meant store-bought chewy granola bars for everyone! (plus a muffin for himself).

Lijah eating a store-bought granola bar

less chewy when it's cold

Just as the water is a big draw in warmer weather, the ice was today. Given the insane warmth over the weekend I was surprised to see it looking pretty solid—and of course we had to try walking on it.

Harvey and Zion standing on the ice at the middle of the pond

still bearing

As much as we enjoy snow, it's absence meant we could roam wherever we wanted, including up some startlingly steep slopes.

Harvey and Zion scrambing up a steep, leaf-covered hill

hard-working climbers

That one was steep enough that sliding down in on the leaves made a satisfactory sledding replacement!

After that I was ready to head home for lunch—I didn't get a muffin!—but the big boys wouldn't leave until they at least tried to cross the ice on the lower pond to the pump house, or whatever it is. Ice that was somewhat softer than on the reservoir proper—but don't worry, Harvey had a plan: send Zion first. They were very proud when they made it, and of course Lijah insisted on joining them. Then we went home. By that point we were all ready for a rest.

Lijah and Zion apparently asleep in the blue bike, heads hanging over the edge

outside wears you out

Of course, Zion was just pretending to be sleeping. But he was ready to sit on the couch and listen to three stories before lunch and another four afterwards. Spring is tiring!

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almost ice skating

Harvey and Zion running on the outdoor ice rink

on the ice

Lexington is making a laudable commitment to improving public spaces—following up on the giant street-side checker game over the summer (beloved by the boys even if not blogged by me) they put in a free, open-to-the-public ice rink on the piece of land that hosts the Farmers Market in more temperate weather. The infrastructure was in place some time ago, but with the weather lately more temperate than you expect this time of year the ice took longer than expected to develop; and the boys, knowing that the rink was there, asked almost daily when we could go visit it. Yesterday was the day!

In order to make sure to get enough exercise if they wouldn't let us on the ice without skates, we parked a ways away and walked over on the bike path. The bigger boys ran ahead while I took things at a relaxed pace with Lijah. He was very excited to be walking, except when he wasn't.

Lijah sitting down in the middle of the bike path

"I can't!"

It's not like I was forcing him to walk: I had the stroller, and would have been delighted to plop him in it and catch up with his brothers, who were about a quarter mile ahead of us. But he was having none of it; when I walked back towards him to make the offer he hopped right up, calling, "I did it!"

As laborious and earth-bound as the walk may have been, all three boys were transported with delight to be on the ice, where just walking seemed like flying.

Lijah walking on the ice, looking like he's in the sky

like floating above clouds

There were no restrictions we knew about so the boys ran wildly around the ice surface, racing and spinning to their heart's content. The running was possible because the temperature—just above freezing—and the light snow that had fallen the day before combined to make the ice a little sticky. It was kind of disappointing, given that we had come all that way for ice—but on the other hand it was nice that none of the kids slipped and broke their heads open.

Not to say there were no falls. Harvey cut his face doing a comedic face-plant over the low rail, and then there was a moment when the bigger boys were taking a quiet sit down in between races.

Harvey and Zion sitting on the edge of the rink

a breather

Lijah came along, but instead of just finding his own spot to sit, he gave Zion a shove.

the boys as before, with Lijah pushing Zion

his role in the family

Turns out Zion's perch was somewhat precarious.

Harvey still sitting, Zion's feet poking over the rink edge where Lijah pushed him off

oof

No injury resulted though, and when Zion grudgingly forgave us for laughing everyone was alright again.

After a good long time on the ice surface proper we explored a little further and found that the frozen overflow from the rink was much slipperier than the rink itself. So we played there for a while.

Harvey and Zion sliding on the overflow off to the side of the rink

the real slippery stuff

And then some more on the rink (the boys had to get across it to get to the gate...), then a trip to the toy store, and the Lexington library... it was a full day. But Zion confirms, the (almost) skating was the undeniable highlight. Now to find some real ice skates for us all before we run out of winter...

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don't curse the kids

A while ago the boys and I were up by the playground and we passed a mom picking up her kids from the after-school program. In the maybe thirty seconds we could overhear them, as we went by in the opposite direction, the mom told the kids not to do three things, framing all of them in terms of the dire outcome she feared. "Don't walk on the curb, you'll fall." "Don't run!" "Watch out in the parking lot, you'll get hit by a car!"

Now these were big girls—middle and upper elementary school—and they didn't need correction like that anyway (and I noticed that they didn't much listen either). But even if they were little, I think there might have been a better way for the mom to frame her suggestions.

There's a strand of thought in Christian circles, which may or may not derive from the writing of Derek Prince, that suggests the existence in our lives of blessings and curses. I don't know a tremendous lot about the matter, but as I understand it the theory is that our words have power. If, for example, you announce that you get lost every time you try and drive downtown, it might increase your chances of poor navigational results in the future. Or, more seriously (and maybe more realistically) if you tell your kids in a moment of frustration that "nobody in this family ever amounts to anything" you might really prejudice their chances of future success. A blessing, obviously, would have the reverse effect: "You're going to do great on the test today, honey!" will, in most cases, be useful encouragement to the little test-taker.

Whether or not you buy all that, I think it's worthwhile for parents to consider just why they're including these predictions of doom in their directions to their kids. Do they think kids won't obey without a reason? I suppose it's possible. But even then, it's possible to give justification without wishing bad results on your offspring—or at the very least denying them agency for their own feelings ("You need to wear your jacket. You're going to be cold!"). I have been known to say to my own kids, in that very same parking lot, "be careful as you walk here, the drivers aren't always paying attention." Which is true, and probably explains the mom in the first paragraph's fear. But I try to leave open the possibility of rational consideration, and try not to make ridiculously improbable predictions.

Because that's maybe the worst of it: the girls were wicked not going to fall off the curb, and I don't think anyone's ever been hit by a car in that lot (praise be). So the mom wasn't just negative, she was flat-out wrong. And if one of her kids did fall off the curb, what would her response have been: "I told you so?!" I can't imagine.

So put yourself on the same team as your kids—as anyone you talk to—and don't predict that bad things will happen to them if they don't follow your advice. Tell them your thinking, sure: "that wall is very high and the ground at the bottom of it is hard and sharp; if you fall it will probably hurt." But maybe hold back on the curses.

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