Now that spring is officially here, we can safely reflect back on the long winter, comforted by the fact that it is finally over.
One good thing about those long cold winter days: the kids got lots of schoolwork done. Nit-wit was only too happy to help.
We also play many a round of Telestrations. Here's Caleb's drawing for moonshine. Not going to touch that one.
Here's the artist himself, waiting for his ride.
March marched in with wondrous spring-like weather. Soon all the snow was gone (we never had much to begin with anyway), and we eagerly went to our usual haunt for some hiking and s'mores. The girls were thrilled to find some milkweed pod seeds from last autumn.
We girls wandered the sun-soaked prairie while Caleb and Corbin roamed the woods. Here's the girls with the frozen lake behind them.
Nora enjoys hanging a reed of straw out of her mouth Farmer Ben style, so Ella assumed she should try out the look with everything she came across.
And who says kids don't get enough fiber?
It was eerily quiet. In town all sorts of birds had been singing for weeks, but here it was silent. We journeyed into the water-logged forest. All was still and quiet there, too.
Ironically enough, the girls were excited to actually find some snow.
Guess what Ella did with the ski pole tip I found?
Meanwhile... what were the boys up to? Corbin found another walking stick to add to his collection.
Caleb found a perch for his bird-self.
Caleb took this cool shot of Corbin among a menagerie of tree limbs.
Don't worry. This is a posed picture. Corbin, as you might have guessed, doesn't actually ever stop to think.
We rendezvoused with the boys at our usual fire pit. Um... I'll let Caleb's face do all the commenting on this one.
Every picnic should have all the food groups. What do you mean cheese puffs aren't a food group?
We brought our remaining marshmallows from last fall. And, well, the bag must have not been sealed properly because they were rather rock-like. The boys decided to make torches out of them.
What is it about fire that brings out the reckless cavemen in men?
I think we found a great new fuel source. Eat your corn out, you ethanol lovers, a new bio-fuel's in town. I suppose it would rather gum up an engine, though.
Before we left the kids roamed out on the icy lake.
One thing I've noticed as of late is the ridiculous amounts of contrails (those lines a jet leaves behind in the sky) overhead. This winter's many dreary days got me thinking. Could there be a link? Evidently I am not the first to wonder. Here is a quote from NOAA:
"Contrails are a concern in climate studies as increased jet traffic may result in an increase in cloud cover. Several scientific studies are being conducted with respect to contrail formation and their climatic effects. Cirrus clouds affect Earth's climate by reflecting incoming sunlight and inhibiting heat loss from the surface of the planet. It has been estimated that in certain heavy air-traffic corridors, cloud cover has increased by as much as 20%. Since contrails can spread out and essentially become cirrus clouds, it is felt that contrails may affect the planetary climate in similar ways. Other studies are underway to better understand the role that jet exhaust itself plays in modifying the chemistry of the upper levels of the atmosphere."
What is a lot, you ask? Check out the sky in this photo:
Here's the crew (minus won't-hold-still Ella) on ice:
Anna's selfie-with-mom tradition endures:
Corbin rides shotgun whenever I need to drive someone somewhere, which is a lot now that it is down to just me and our lone van. (Side note: My large white van is no more. I've upgraded from my 1992 rustmobile to a 2005 color-of-rust vehicle. We all joked that this one should actually start in the rain, which became quite ironic when the starter failed a couple weeks later. No worries, though. My wallet became lighter, but we had her up and running again in a day. Anyway, here's Corbin in our new mode of transportation:
I am a good driver. I just utterly fail at navigation. The next week we wanted to go hiking and s'moring again, but I made a wrong turn on a winding dirt road. I figured if we just kept going we'd reach our destination eventually (no comments, please). A bevy of wild turkeys crossed right in front of us and slowly wandered into the woods. And as a bonus, the road spit us out right where I thought (all right, hoped) it would.
The ice on the lake was much thinner now. The crack the kids had stood over (4 pictures up on this page) was now an open chasm.
So of course Corbin had to try it out a bit.
On the way home we went through an automated car wash. I usually just hand wash the vehicles, but after discovering the previous owners must have hit something with this van (Corbin, ever the conspiracy theorist, thinks they hit a human. Personally, I vote racoon or possum.) I decided to let a machine try to get the chunks of hair and flesh off the inside grill.
Anyway, the girls talked about that traumatic experience for days afterwards. Here's their faces of horror while the van was being washed:
Our monkey-armed cat, Luigi was thrilled when we opened the sunny porch room during the warmer days.
We'll end this page with some photos Caleb took out in service.
His service group was treated to an extra passenger when their driver kept his window down at a call.
Pioneering is going well for the boys. Caleb even spotted some feathered friends while out and about.
Being deaf in one ear, Caleb was teased that maybe they should drop him off here.
Thus ends our almost spring recollections. Next up: the real deal!