The arrival of spring, a rainy day, and making plans

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
                                                                                             Hal Borland

I think it’s safe to say that, here in Edmonton, spring has finally arrived. Depending on where you live, spring might be well underway. I see pictures from friends on Vancouver Island who have green lawns and leafy trees already; I still have snow in my yard, but the ice covering the lake across the street has finally given up hope and melted away completely. This has been a long, challenging at times winter. As much as a person can try to enjoy winter, and I personally find there a lot to enjoy about winter, that boundary between the departure of true winter weather and the genuine arrival of spring is hard. The world is ugly and dirty, the weather uncooperative, and the calendar moves even more slowly than it ever has.  At the same time, you can feel in your blood that change is upon us, and your energy increases. Daylight lasts longer into the evening, and greets you earlier every morning. Getting off the couch and out the door is easier. The air smells different, better somehow. Continue reading “The arrival of spring, a rainy day, and making plans”

Spring Breakerz at the Muttart Conservatory!

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We just wrapped up spring break here in Edmonton, and due to a slight mix-up with the prices of flights (namely, that the airlines think it’s thoroughly acceptable to more than double the prices of flights during spring break), we treated ourselves to a bit of a stay cation, right here in our very own winter-locked city. One of our many adventures (most of which went undocumented) was to the Muttart Conservatory. If you’re unfamiliar, the Muttart is four separate glass pyramids, each housing plants representing a different biome: desert, temperate forests, and tropical forests. The fourth pyramid is a showcase one, displaying different displays of cultivated flowers, as opposed to the others that are more natural.

The pyramids are very geared towards children to explore, with little activity charts of things to search and find. For example, there will be specific landmarks you need to find, different colours of flowers, and different types of leaves or characteristics of plants to find. Finn had a GREAT time exploring, trying to complete his checklists. Declan was happy to be able to roam around and explore and see some plants and flowers without being fully dressed up for the outdoors. 🙂 Continue reading “Spring Breakerz at the Muttart Conservatory!”

Quote of the Day | Anne Lamott

“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.” – Anne Lamott

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Anne Lamott: novellist, non-fiction writer, activist.

Puddle splashin’

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As this week continued to get warmer and warmer, and more and more of our snow was melting, I decided it was time to fully introduce the boys to the joys of getting out and splashing in puddles. We spend so much time making sure that they are safe and clean and “staying out of trouble”. Sometimes, getting out into nature is one of those places where being clean, taking risks, and staying out of trouble isn’t nearly as important (though staying safe definitely is). So, into our rubber boots we went (Mom included! This was her first time out splashing in puddles too!) and out the door we headed, searching for puddles! And boy, did we find them!

Hinterland-Princes-Fun-Splashing-in-Spring-Puddles Hinterland-Princes-Fun-Splashing-in-Spring-Puddles Continue reading “Puddle splashin’”

Walking on a fine winter’s day…

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Finally, finally, FINALLY, we’ve had a stretch of nice weather. Really, truly nice. Like, the snow is melting and spring has sprung in Edmonton! (Here’s hoping old man Winter doesn’t make a sudden reappearance any time soon!) As luck would have it, the first really warm day was a Saturday, so my little Princes & I bundled up and went for a walk, to enjoy the snow one last time this year. Our destination: the Fort Edmonton Footbridge!

Hinterland-Princes-Fort-Edmonton-Footbridge-Walking-With-Dad Continue reading “Walking on a fine winter’s day…”

Escaping Winter at the John Janzen Nature Center

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I’m not normally one to complain about the weather, particularly in the winter. If anything, I try to be hardier than the average bear when the mercury dips and the snow falls. Still…. this has been a hard winter, especially lately with the bitter cold we’ve had. Luckily, Edmonton has some great alternative options to keep children active during the winter, and one in particular is a favorite of ours, the John Janzen Nature Center. Last weekend we went there to burn off some excess energy and still have a little interaction with nature.

Inside there is a big playland that is fashioned after several natural elements: a beaver dam, a bee hive, a squirrel’s warren, plus some other nature-related things to play with. It’s really super interesting, and I love taking the boys each time, explaining to them when the questions inevitably come up about what things are and how they live in nature, and then we run off and have some more fun building or climbing or sliding or exploring. I basically cut the boys loose when we get there and see what kind of fun and exploration we can get up to. Continue reading “Escaping Winter at the John Janzen Nature Center”

Family Day Weekend Adventures!

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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. Continue reading “Family Day Weekend Adventures!”

Snowshoeing at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Reserve

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Winter in Edmonton can be tough to really get out and explore a lot, especially with little ones in tow. There are lots of places to go and things to do, but you’re at the mercy of the weather, and how warm you can keep their little hands and feet. This particular winter in Alberta has been odd for the constant thaw and freeze cycle that’s been going on during what should be the coldest months of the year.

Trying to be brave and intrepid, I decided to take Finn out for a little bit of snowshoeing. It’s a great winter sport that I want to do more of as the years go by, exploring the parks and natural areas around Edmonton on foot, reminding myself what life looks at in the backcountry when all the leaves are fallen and snow lies everywhere. For starters though, I thought that the Clifford E. Lee Natural Area would be a great place to start: it’s close to our house, has a nice raised boardwalk for parts of the trail, and very gentle hills for the rest. It’s also not a very far hike at all, perfect for Finn’s first time out exploring in the snow like that. Continue reading “Snowshoeing at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Reserve”

Lets Go Have an Adventure – One Dad’s Manifesto

As is natural with any parent, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my two sons, and the things that I want to teach them as they grow up. That process usually ends up with me looking back and reflecting on the things that my parents taught me, the experiences we had and shared that maybe helped shape me into the person I am today. Inevitably, that leads me back to my memories of camping.

For as long as I can remember, summer holidays meant camping for us. We would hook on to the holiday trailer and head for the mountains and spend weeks going from one park to another, seeing waterfalls, mountains, roadside attractions, orchards, people, animals, and pretty much the breadth of what you can see from the highways in BC and Alberta. Even now, my parents (both sets of them) will holiday the same way, pulling the trailer out to a lake somewhere to set-up shop and relax and enjoy the beauty that we as Canadians have at our disposal. However, a lot of those holidays ended where the roads ended, or where paved, easy walking trails could take us. Hold that thought right there, and I’ll be back at it shortly. Continue reading “Lets Go Have an Adventure – One Dad’s Manifesto”