Friday, December 31, 2010

Outdoor Rink: Part One

The boys helped clear off the space for the small ice surface.
Today was a sunny, snowy day.  The temperature never came above freezing so I thought I would try making my first outdoor rink for Seth to enjoy.  I have no grand illusions of boards and nets and all the glam.  In fact the ice surface won't be that grand.  Seth, a friend of his, and I cleared off a space about 10m X 6m to start flooding.  After we cleared the space I took the boys to Bill's Corner store for a hot chocolate.  The boys then played in the fort for a while before we went in for lunch.

The boys enjoyed their hot chocolate while
sitting on the steps of the St. John's United
Church Center.

I didn't put down plastic, I didn't build boards.  Seth, the other boy, and I shovelled off the space and put the pile along the edge to create the boundary.  We did that this morning.  I then fought all day with my hose and the pipes trying to get the water to flow so I could flood the ice tonight.  It was a bit frustrating but finally I got the hose clear of ice.  Just a note for those who might find themselves in this same predicament; I put the hose in the bathtube with hot water.  It took about 10minutes to melt the ice out and I cleaned the hose while I was at it...oh and then the bath tube.

Under the stars and a cool night sky I applied a generous amount of water straight to the grass snow mix area that the boys and I had cleared off earlier in the day.  Now I will wait and see what it looks like tomorrow morning and hopefully flood again.

There is nothing better than a kid's rosy smile while enjoying winter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Winds

Seth loves snow forts and snowballs, especially if
I build the fort.
Winter has finally landed with a thud...literally almost.  I think the snow landed all in one moment with a thud.  I went to bed at midnight on Sunday night and when I awoke at 6:00am there was a ton of snow sitting in our driveway.  When my son woke up he couldn't wait to get outside and play.  I love that he loves winter time and his youth keeps me young.

The two in one fort/sliding hill near the
driveway is a family favorite, after a talk
about safety near the road.

After a modest breakfast of toast and cereal we layered up and went out to do battle with the blowing snow.  My son saying to his mother "Mom! Dad and I are going outside so he can shovel the driveway and I can throw snowballs at him!"  Which he did while telling me where to pile the snow higher to make a fort and sliding hill...which I did.  It was a great morning but already this winter I have broken a shovel and am extremely sore from shovelling the driveway not once, not twice, but three times in one day.  
I am not sure why but it seems to be winter time when my son and I have the most fun together.  We camp in the summer but he doesn't seem to get the same enjoyment out of it.  Maybe because I don't let him throw rocks at me :)

I hope the New Year blows great things your way.

Cheers all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Trees and Memories

The trees in downtown Sussex can put maybe
even the Grinch in the Christmas spirit.

It is that time of year when inspiration and hope is all around us.  All you have to do is look at the face of a child as he watches the Christmas parade, or watch an elderly woman singing carols as she searches for a perfect gift.  The life in young and old seems elevated during the Christmas season and it is contagious and only the coldest of hearts is immune to the warmth.  One of the longest standing traditions of this festive season is the Christmas tree and this is "one of my favorite things."
If you have a Christmas tree in your home it is likely because your parents had one and you have strong memories and rituals attached to your tree.  Whether you decorate a real tree or the more modern fake tree you likely have that old ornament that has to be hung just right by the specific family member.  Maybe you have to enjoy a box of chocolates or some hot chocolate while decorating the tree while Christmas music plays loudly in the background.  For some it might be a loud boisterous affair with laughter while others reflectively admire the tree before putting on each decoration.  For me and my family it is a rather loud affair, filled with laughter, the smell of chocolates and hot chocolate, mixed with balsam fir needles.  The music varies from Alabama's "Thistlehair the Christmas Bear" to Madonna singing "Santa Baby" but one thing is consistent and that is that it is played a bit louder than normal.

Seth loved being able to climb up on a
chair and decorate the tree this year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Irony on the Lawless Road

The sign showing the Lawless Road

I have been able to put some extra time in at work over the last little while so I had some time coming to me.  I have always wanted to hike up Pickwauket Mountain just outside of Hampton for sometime now and today, I made the trek up the steep slope.  Work had taken me to Hampton for the morning and so I decided that while there I would explore the area a bit.  The weather was not looking promising, mild for this time of year but calling for rain.  I crossed my fingers as I parked my car along the Lawless Road and set a course for the rocky outcrop on the southern face of Pickwauket Mountain.

It was ironic to me that I was on the Lawless Road when just a few weeks ago I started a hike off on the Law Road.  The first obstacle that I would have to overcome on this hike would be to cross Pickwauket Brook.  After a short jaunt up the stream I found a spruce tree that was stretching its limbs across the brook.  I carefully stepped across the tree and landed safely on the other side.  It was all up hill from here but it would turn out to be a great walk.

This maintained woodlot near Hampton
made you feel like you were walking into
a postcard.
There are times when I envy some landowners for what they have and for what they have maintained.  It is not enough simply to own land but I really admire those who work their land and maintain its integrity.  As I left the flood plain with its scruffy alders, thick black spruce, and white birch, I moved into a well kept pine stand.  The forest stand was not so impressive but the road that led me around to the north side of the mountain was very picturesque.  It seemed to envelop you in a blanket as I walked along.  It made it very difficult to leave the road to head for the higher slopes. 
The forest had turned to thin yellow and white birch stands with the odd spruce and pine thrown in.  The final ascent to the top of the mountain was challenging but the biggest challenge I faced was which approach to take to reveal the scenic vista over the Hampton Marsh.  I raced up the slope and stepped onto the rock precipice and took it all in. The view was amazing, even with the gray overcast day, the site line stretched a long way across the Marsh to the far hills.  I sat on the south slope for a while, because the wind was cool on the north east, but I still took time to take in the view from that angle as well.  I took notice of a stunted spruce that was growing with a majority of its roots upturned.  It was a true testament of the will of nature to see that tree growing on such a wind torn and rock hard place.
With some hesitation I left the small mountain that juts out of the landscape like a volcano on the prairies.  It was a great hike that was overdue and it set my mind right again as I start to prepare for the holiday season.

Looking down onto the Hampton Marsh from the top of Pickwauket Mtn.