Mid-winter is my family’s favorite time of the year the highbush cranberry and alder is covered with a few feet of snow so we can go almost anywhere. Eight months out of the year they are so thick you have to hack your way around, with several feet of snow covering them we are free to explore and wonder anywhere our feet take us. Our favorite way to do it is on snowshoes so at least one day a week we put on our snowshoes and head out. Last Saturday was clear with the mercury in the thermometer headin’ south toward zero after several warm snowy days. With more warm temperatures and snow in the forecast we decided it would be a good day for a walk about. We suited up, loaded a backpack with an old pot, cups and some cocoa mix then headed out for the hundred acre woods. The boys took the lead and broke trail while ma and pa brought up the rear, they go five miles to our one mile. It’s amazing watching them as they grow; it just seems like yesterday they wouldn’t get more than a few feet from either Jenny or me. Now it’s hard to keep them both in sight they are always in the exploring and learning mode. They make more discoveries in a few yards than Henry Hudson and Capt. Cook did in their entire lives. Each new discovery they run back and tell us about it in five hundred words or more. If they are not telling us about something they are asking about something their curiosity is without end; Why did that tree grow crooked? Why do squirrels eat spruce cones and how come they left half of it on that stump? Our boys at seven years know almost every plant in their backyard, if it is edible, if it has medicinal value, if it makes good fire starter or what ever if it has a use they know it. In the spring Jenny can send them out to pick wild salad greens and not worry about picking something that will do us in. That’s for another day though I’m getting off on a rabbit trail here anyway back to last Saturday. After a couple of hours wandering around exploring and taking pictures we ended up where I had been cutting firewood a few days earlier and had left piles of spruce branches.
The boys and I gathered branches while Jenny got a fire going to dry gloves and fix some hot chocolate. For the next hour or two we sat around the fire getting smoky and drinking hot chocolate while we listen to the boys recap our latest adventure. When the chocolate runs out and the fire dies down we pack up and head home. Winter time explores and hot chocolate has become one of our family traditions. A tradition that will make the memories Jenny and I will have of the boys in our old age. One, hopefully, the boys will carry on with the next generation when their kids are breaking trails and doing the exploring.