Tuesday, April 16, 2013

the in between...crocs on ice

We are on the edge of winter and spring.  Here in Maine the transition between these two seasons is tricky.  A few days of warmth and we wash and put away our parkas and boots, only to have the cold come rushing back at us.  When this happens, we stubbornly refuse to put back on our parkas and hats and mittens, start up the wood stove,  and the thrill of this rebellion apparently helps us to combat the resulting physical discomfort.

Today, the weather prediction was for warm and sunny weather, the first day of sun that we had had for several days.  Needing an outing during this sad and troubling week of school vacation with plans to visit Boston on hold, we decided to head in the other direction.  To head North.  To be outside.  To be away from the barrage of disturbing media information.  To head for the Maine mountains.

This time of year makes for some interesting fashion choices here.  My kids wore smart wools and crocs.  Shorts with their parkas.  They fought my request that they throw in some extra clothing...just in case.  Maybe just some extra socks?

Though the drive to my family's property is only 2 hours away, as we drove we moved from full-on mud season in our backyard, with buds and birds and sunshine, to seeing patches of frozen ground and snow.  As we drove down the path to the camp, we saw the lake, the water level high with the ice broken into large sheets, but still in the lake. And some of the mountains that surround the lake were still snow topped.

The way we had dressed in Portland seemed a bit out of place, a bit premature, here.

As it always does, the lake called to the kids and they were quickly out on it.  Because of the cove's shallowness, we knew that the ice sheets were only in about 2 feet of water, so the kids explored with giddiness, likely because water with thin ice is usually forbidden.   They quickly had an ice ferry system going, moving quietly and cooperatively about the sheets of ice, ferrying the sheets back and forth between the larger openings.  Marching, jumping, howling, shivering.  Occasionally, one of them would run to the picnic table which was in the full sun in order to warm their feet...for a few minutes...before they headed right back out again.

Once the ice had begun to take its toll on little toes, and moods seemed to be following, we decided to take a walk down the camp road to the brook we enjoy playing in.  The wind was gone in the woods and it felt warmer as we moved away from the openness of the lake area.  Low areas were filled with puddles of composting leaves, muddy areas held animal tracks, and moss patches held the warmth of the sun.

Like the weather, and like this week, fickle and unpredictable, there were moments of perfectness and moments of disaster.  I will remember watching all three children take off their shoes and cross the river on a fallen log.  I will smile as I think about how Nicholas quietly turned around and went back to help Elliott cross when he started to feel unsure of himself.  I will remember Julia challenging herself to run as fast as she could through an area of saplings while dodging tree trunks, in and out of the dappled light.  I will remember the croc races down the river as I put their too small shoes up in the attic, waiting for someone smaller to need them again.  I know that with time I will forget the whining, the inappropriate dress, the scratched legs and feet.  I will block out that Jonathan tried to catch an escaping croc in the frigid rushing snow melt waters, lost his footing, and actually fell full body into the river...and destroyed his phone.

On trips like these, we always wish we were better prepared.  Had packed boots to keep their feet warmer.  Had thermoses of warm soup and cocoa.  We wish for items that woud have extended the joy a bit longer.  I mentally catalogue a list for next time, to make it even better.  I also know that next time, the unpredictable will require very different remedies and that I will again be unprepared.

But, part of the magic of these misadventures, the unexpected happenings, the disasters from poor planning, is that sometimes we rally.  Sometimes we deal with frozen feet by taking off our soggy shoes and nestling toes into a warm and spongey moss patch.  We hang our socks in the sunshine on branches.

Sometimes the joy comes from the misadventures.  And the poorly planned.  And the lack of prudent thinking.

As I pack up the car to head home, Jonathan is sitting inside wrapped in towels and a blanket, having had a short nap in the camp's warmth.  His clothing is fluttering in the wind as it hangs over the side mirrors of the car.  I know I will be the one to get out of the car to pump gas on the way home.

The camp door slams as the kids run out, laughing.

Mommy?  Can we microwave our underwear?

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