First Helpings of Spring

The first signs of Spring were all around us toward the end of last week and we could not have been more pleased to be spending our days outside enjoying the changing of seasons. The cool mornings were perfect for walks to the park, quickly turning into warm afternoons spent exploring by the creek or playing in the backyard. We picnicked on blankets while basking in the sunshine and dug through the garden plot in search of pet worms to name. It still feels like a long way off from the hot summer, when our picnics are always shaded and the garden is for watering or picking veggies and bug hunting expeditions have expanded to curious searches under anything that can be lifted or overturned.

Thursday started with a trip to one of the parks in the area. It was much further then I wanted to walk since my hips have been giving me nothing but trouble this pregnancy, but the kids were adamant that the “Big Green Park” was the place to be, so that’s where we went. And it was a good choice. The walk was beautiful as the trail guided us through a still brown but lively section of green space and alongside two creeks. The final patches of snow from the previous weekend were disappearing quickly and the weeks run-off made the usually still creek start to fill and gurgle as water rushed over rocks, making little waterfalls. These creeks seem to love the spring as much as we do. In this drought-laden area, it’s the only time of year they swell and rush from the occasional downpours and melting snow that bring them to life.

We walked over bridges and through an underpass where the creek is at its widest. Zoren practiced his “hip hop tricks” on the slanted concrete leading up to the road while Stori and I watched the ducks splashing in the cold water and listened to the first prairie dogs of the season, two sentinels standing outside their burrows barking alerts to their families as a pair of hungry hawks circled above. I love this section of open space in the springtime because it reminds me of taking walks along The Dredge Bank when I was a kid in Wisconsin.

The Dredge Bank is small road, next to a local lake, that bypassed town and was laden with wildlife and the sounds of water rushing over the dam, into the Fox River. It’s a road in ruin now, just an overgrown shadow of its former self, unable to even be driven on anymore due to excessive flooding about 5 years back. But it is still a place I take the kids every summer we go back to Wisconsin. And we walk together, looking for caterpillars, trying to catch dragonflies and butterflies, and listening to the water as it pours over the dam.

The stretch of open space here, that winds through the nearby section of Big Dry Creek, invokes the same sense of connection with the earth and nature that I felt so many years ago as a kid, out having adventures along the Dredge Bank. It is a little piece of my childhood, right here at home. And the kidlets seems to feel that same connection to this area, always opting for our walks to lead us through this section of trails, always stopping to marvel at its inhabitants, bodies of water, and vegetation. It’s a place of peace and comfort to all of us.

By the time we got to the park, it was already teeming with moms and little ones who were also out taking advantage of the morning sun. It was a nice change from most mornings at the park, when my kids and maybe a couple others are the only people in sight. We stayed for well over an hour and I watched as the kidlets showed off all the their climbing, swinging, and spinning skills.

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imageWhen their little bellies started to grumble for some lunch, we started our trek back home through the same winding trails that took us there. Even though we all had tired legs and rumbling tummies, and my hips were sure to give out at any moment, we made it a point to enjoy our walk home. We made up songs about the changing seasons and played the “freeze” game. We stopped at the underpass to say a quick hello/goodbye to the ducks and counted almost 20 huge ant hills that were luckily not yet covered with armies of little foragers.

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It was a beautiful morning and is precisely how I want to remember our last spring in this neighborhood and probably my last spring being pregnant. There are a lot of changes on the horizon for us over the next few months but for now we are enjoying our days together, making the most of the time we have left in this neighborhood, and looking forward to the new adventures that are waiting for us.

One Comments to “First Helpings of Spring”

  1. Joy Ribar says:

    Loved this post, Erica. It brings back sweet memories of the dredge bank road, our outings feeding ducks on the river and playing with your kidlets at the park when I visit. Such a nice breath of fresh air to take a school break and read your lovely prose.

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