slipping and sliding

It's cooled down now, but the end of last week through the weekend it was terrible hot. Monday too, so for our first day of summer school (camp? not-school? what do we call it when we celebrate the end of school but then keep meeting on the same schedule?) the kids came prepared to get wet. But how much fun could we have with just the hose? Quite a lot, it turns out.

a slide held up on a step-ladder with a tarp at the bottom and hose running down it

thrilling!

It was a bit of a process to come up with that setup, and really the kids should get all the credit. I resisted the ladder on safety grounds, and I resisted the tarp because I thought it would be a pain to dry and put away after. But both worked fantastic, as long as we had at least one person holding up the ladder. Zion and Elijah even tried a few runs head-first, despite the kind of tough drop at the bottom of the slide. And nobody died!

Zion splashing down at the bottom of the waterslide

one of many sucessful runs

As cool as that was, it wasn't even the best waterslide experience of the past couple days. As I hinted at yesterday, the boys and their friends—or, to be precise, Zion and his friend—discovered that the algae on the spillway at Estabrook Town Forest makes it very slippery indeed. At first they were just sliding down on their bare feet, but that was of course kind of risky: even though the water over the spillway was only a couple inches deep and the pool at the bottom not more than 18 it was inevitable that before too long they'd fall and get wet. So they made sure that wasn't an issue by just jumping right in!

Zion sliding down a concrete spillway into a shallow pond

the photo fails to capture the sense of speed

(That also reduced the risk of head injuries from falling backwards, which I appreciated.)

The slide kept the kids entertained for well over half an hour, and they would have stayed even longer if we had let them. And it was hot enough that they didn't mind being wet for the rest of the walk and the car ride home. Who needs to pay big money to a waterpark to have all kinds of wet slidey fun?!

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adventure time

As well as all the other excitement last week we went on a couple outings close to home and discovered some fun surprises in areas I thought we new pretty well! The first one was last Wednesday, when we brought bikes to Walden Pond so we could ride and get hot before we went in the water. Instead of going on the road (the idea of which made the boys nervous) we took to the paths behind the parking lot, aiming for a spot where OpenStreetMaps suggested that there might—possibly!—be a tunnel under the highway linking up with the Hapgood Wright Town Forest in Concord . After a few wrong turns and some fun short hills, we reached the road... and there it was!

Harvey biking out of a tunnel into the bright sunshine

into a mysterious new world

Thrilling as it was, the tunnel wasn't the only exciting part of the outing. We've explored Hapgood Wright lots of times on foot, but bikes always let you see trails differently. This time we noticed lots of amazing downhill runs that we definitely want to go back to do some more! Of course, downhills require uphills, and there were certainly some doozies. Even before we got back to the pond to swim we were glad of a midway rest stop.

Harvey and Elijah cooling themselves and their water bottles in a brook

cool for feet and water bottles

(If you want to explore the tunnel yourself, just follow our track as shown here.)

Thursday's adventure was a post-strawberry trip to Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest, but that one didn't go as well. Elijah was tired out from the picking, and the other boys have bad memories of riding that woods from when, the last time we tried it, they were feeling a little sick. So their energy wasn't high to start with. The only new discovery we made there was that the paths on the ground are difficult to reconcile with the map—and not knowing where we were or where we were going didn't make Lijah feel any better about the outing! Even though the older two boys had recovered and were having fun, we cut the trip short after just a couple miles.

Then on Friday we were back in Concord for a hike with friends in Estabrook Town Forest. We know it well too, though I will say every time we walk up Punkatasset Hill (88m) I'm surprised at how steep that trail is! Being there with other people let us notice some things more—like stick houses—and some things less, because lots of the time we were deep in conversation. But by far the outstanding discovery of the trip was that they spillway where the pond drains into Sawmill Brook makes a fantastic natural waterslide... but that's a story for another post!

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tonight I'm sleeping instead of writing

If you read this blog via an RSS feed or check in regularly—not likely, I know!—you will have noticed that recent posts have been showing up late. The fact is, I'm behind in my writing. I have lots of things I want to write about, but I keep failing to finish posts on time. The last couple nights I stayed up late to catch up from last week—that is, when I wasn't staying up late to get ready for a birthday party. I was delighted to get all that stuff about the end of school and Harvey's birthday down, dated retroactively... but now, after a full day, I find myself behind again! And so very, very tired. So instead of staying up past ten for a fourth night in a row, I'm leaving this note here—low content, but on time!—and I'll try and use tomorrow's writing time for the story about our trip under the highway, or the two waterslides the boys have experienced in the last week. As long as I don't have to take all of it helping the younger writers, that is. We've got a lot going on over here!

Harvey's parties

Harvey turned 12 yesterday on Fathers Day. How appropriate for the boy who made me a father! We had a full weekend of celebrating, with the centerpiece being an in-person party with his friends on Sunday.

Harvey and friends eating cake and ice cream on the lawn

it's been a long time!

Folks came over before lunch with their bikes, and we rode the oft-traveled route down to Fawn Lake for a picnic (we've done it before; everybody is much quicker now!). Everybody brought their own lunches, but we provided a variety pack of little bags of chips. Very festive! Then I made everybody ride around the pond, forgetting that normal people find bikes a hindrance on twisty, rooted trails. Oh well, their riding on the bike path was so easy it totally made up for it. In fact, they're so good I don't think they even noticed the ride: their bodies were on their bikes, but their minds were in Minecraft. At lunch too.

Harvey's friends picnicing on the lawn at Fawn Lake

a beautiful spot to talk about virtual worlds

When we got home we had cake and ice cream on the lawn; it was too hot to be on the deck. Harvey conceptualized the cake and helped me construct it, and we were both quite pleased with how it came out.

a three-layer chocolate cake decorated with oreos on a table in the lawn

chocolate with oreos

Of course, that wasn't the only party! Celebrations kicked off Saturday at lunch time with a cookout with my parents, who graciously shifted from from our previously planned dinner cookout to let the boys attend a movie night in a friend's garage. Lunch was hotter than it would have been in the evening, and I may have sweated onto the burgers, but that didn't bother anybody. We did head inside for dessert, which wasn't a cake but a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Harvey opening a big card from Grandpa

Grandpa's birthday card

On Sunday we celebrated Harvey at breakfast time with a candle in french toast. Then in the evening, after he had a little bit of time to rest after the excitement of the early afternoon, it was time for a party with the other grandparents and another chocolate cake. I skipped that one: after a full weekend of party prep, my Fathers Day present was to get some rest!

Happy Birthday Harvey! I trust he feels well celebrated.

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moments from the week

Zion, Elijah, and friends lying in a spillway lifting their faces out of the water

we found a place to play in the water

Moments from the past week.

Leah sitting on the back deck with breakfast and laptop

summer morning office

Elijah riding his bike to the library doors in the rain

we're still excited about the library

the boys eating cookies under a tree

the Farmers Market is back and it has cookies

the boys in the reproduction Walden house

Henry's house is open again now too

the boys playing in Berry Pond

pond joy

Elijah looking at a watery marsh on a bike ride stop

always stop to look for frogs

the boys and grandparents eating lunch on the deck

Harvey's birthday eve picnic

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