In Alberta (and several other provinces as well) this past weekend was the Family Day long weekend, which is a welcome respite the winter doldrums and a nice break from work between New Years and Easter. As a family we did our best to make a good, adventurous weekend out of things, and I’d say we mostly succeeded.
We spent Saturday mostly hiding form the somewhat cooler weather, but the weather reports were positive enough for Sunday that we took it upon ourselves to brave the weather for a morning spent at the Silver Skate Festival, held down at Edmonton’s William Hawrelak Park. It is one of our cities better winter festivals, all focused around family-friendly fun with a focus on discovering the different sports and activities that can be enjoyed outdoors in the winter. That includes cross country skiing, skating (of all varieties including speed skating), snowshoeing, orienteering, plus there is just a lot of other fun things to get up to for the kids. We have always enjoyed our time at the Festival.
Well, this year we didn’t pay attention to what time things started up at, and arrived hours before any of the main activities were starting. We did at least have some time to tour through the various amazing ice sculptures that were being completed during the festival. There were at least a dozen, and all of them huge, and amazingly creative. Sadly I didn’t get very many pictures of the sculptures that turned out; apparently photographing ice in front of a snowy background isn’t something to be done casually.
Then we marched off to the Harewlak playground to let the boys burn off a little more energy, or more correctly generate a little internal heat of their own. It wasn’t overly cold (the car said -10) but there was a bit of a breeze and no sunshine whatsoever so it felt cooler than maybe it was. Needless to say, everyone was a little chilly by the time we packed it in for the morning.
Declan even caught a little siesta on the long walk back to the car. Lucky duck. 😛
The next day was actually Family Day, and after a busy morning visiting with a bunch of my extended family, Finn got to go off with his Nana for a bit of swimming and skating with his cousin, and Declan came home for a nap. After he got up again, I took him into the yard for some winter exploration time, armed with a shovel.
I think a lot about how I can start introducing Declan to the outdoors. Winter in particular has been hard to do this, as he gets cold easily and just isn’t comfortable walking on the crappy, lumpy ice/snow that January has given to us. It also seems like there is less active stuff to do with him, as he is still only 20 months old, so aside from walking slowly he mostly gets stuck in the sled baby carrier and hauled along for the trip, which doesn’t seem interesting or interactive for him. I’ve also come to the conclusion that “outdoors” for him doesn’t need to involve a lot of wilderness or anything like that. It can just be some casual exploration of our backyard, which is what we did.
We did find a rabbit thoroughfare that ran through our yard, actually through the entire neighbourhood as I could see it go through at least six of our neighbour’s yards. Declan was super interested in looking at all of the bunny footprints.
We also found a bit of bunny poop too, which almost interested him more, I think.
The last bit of wildlife that caught his attention: the monkey that lives inside my camera. I fear for what happens to my cameras when he gets a hold of them one day.
So, lesson learned? Getting outdoors doesn’t need to really be all that far from the physical door itself, especially when the conditions aren’t ideal. Waiting around for “ideal conditions” means you could be waiting a long time, long enough that you miss the whole opportunity. And, dress the kids for bad weather even when you think it’s going to be nice out.
Also… I can’t wait for spring to arrive. 🙂