In terms of spending time outdoors, this has been a rough winter for us. January was officially The Month of Sick: I had influenza, which took me out of commission for several weeks, and Frankie, the poor kid, had everything else. Unfortunately, I'm only half joking. He had an ear infection, and a salivary gland infection, and strep throat, and a horrible allergic reaction to a penicillin-based antibiotic that made him miserably inflamed and itchy for almost two weeks. February was better health-wise, tempered only by the on again off again cold that seems to be a permanent feature of preschool. But the weather was brutal. I generally hold to the principle that there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, but February really put that theory to the test. It was the coldest month in recorded history here, with an average temperature of 9 degrees, never mind the wind chills. It's hard not to worry about frostbite in such conditions, so instead of romping in the snow, we spent an obscene amount of time playing with Legos. And I started going completely stir crazy.
I decided that March will be different: we will get outside, period. Come hell or high water, we will get out. No matter what. No matter what. No matter what!
In the last week, we've been outside a bit here at home, sledding and shoveling, and walking around the neighborhood herding ice. I was ready to kick it up a notch, so yesterday we drove to Barry Park for a hike-and-play. This is an unusual approach; the city park is so close, it seems bizarre not to walk. However, sidewalks aren't available for portions of the walk, and with the streets narrowed and lined with towering snowbanks, walking with Frankie just didn't seem safe. We parked in the lot at the south end of the park, and crossed the street to clamber over the snowbank and through the deep snow to the foot path, which was well-packed by local dog walkers.
Once on the path, we turned west and set out to find the snowman we'd seen out the window when driving to music school Thursday afternoon. Frankie loves snowmen, and every time we've tried building them this winter, the snow has been too powdery to stick, due to the extreme cold. So this was an exciting destination for him. From there we continued west, following the loop trail around the marsh/pond in a counter-clockwise direction. After the next “destination,” which involved kicking snow from the top of a culvert into a stream running below, Frankie got a little whiny because we weren't at the playground yet, so we had to find some treasures. The usual assortment of ice chunks, sticks, cones, and flowers cheered him right up.
The playground was an adventure in and of itself. I wasn't sure what to expect, but figured I could push the kid on the swings if nothing else. Despite the snow not being shoveled or packed out at all, Frankie was determined to enjoy it fully, and we spent almost an hour there. It helped that there was a slight crust on the snow, so he wasn't sinking through everywhere like I was. He managed to get down all three slides, and climb all three ladders, and slide down the fire pole. The “ponies” were completely buried in snow, but I wore my arm out pushing him on the swings. After a quick detour to check out the new Little Free Library (“it's a little house!”), we followed the former road, now closed to motor vehicles but still paved and plowed, back to the parking lot where we had started.
Then when we got home, Frankie refused to go back inside. He insisted on sledding and then shoveling. Almost three hours outside and a nice walk, too? I'm calling this a success. Hurray for March!
|Kicking snow into the stream|
|Running through the snow|
|Leading the way|
|Falling snow on the path ahead|
|Another small spot of open water|
|A walking stick|
|And now we've got a flower...|
|The twisty slide|
|This bench is just to show snow depth.|
|More evidence: Frankie walking between two park benches|