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     It is hard to look outside and think that only a couple of weeks ago I was worried about another green Christmas. We got our dusting of snow on Christmas day and we have been having our fair share of it ever since, with more warnings about more for tonight. While we had a lovely Christmas full of excitement and driving to our family celebrations we were still starting to feel that cabin fever kick in. There was no cure for it except to go outside.

     We bundled the boys up in a new record (about 20 minutes- go team!) and then ourselves and we escaped to the great wilderness of our front yard. Yes, that is when we realized how lame that was. Mind you, the [now] 2 yr old and 3.5 yr old boys don’t care where they are. The oldest is happy as long as there is snow to eat, so no fear there (as long as we remind him the importance of no yellow snow and no snow from the cars) and the youngest really can’t do too much as he is usually weighed down by his giant snowsuit. We figured we would go on an adventure and visit an old favourite to see what it was like in the winter time, the O’Neill Nature Preserve that is in Chatham.

    We tried to sound convincing to the boys that this will be a fun trip however the youngest will have none of this as he stopped his naps (definitely by his choice, not ours) and the afternoon is usually pretty uncertain in terms of moods.

We got to the nature preserve and took out the sled and the shovels (shovels in winter hikes are like throwing rocks in the summer hikes as in it is essential). Away we went with the little guy happy in the sled and the bigger one digging and flinging snow everywhere he went.

    This trail is one I visit a lot with the boys and have been able to see it’s beauty transform throughout the summer, fall, and now winter. I must say seeing it in the winter has been my favourite transformation so far. As we entered the trails we stopped to see a couple of dogs being walked and a cross country skier pass us by. It was so peaceful and active at the same time. It made me wish we had cross country skies to try out, then flash backs of our first (and last time) cross country skiing while we lived in Thunder Bay quickly dismissed that thought.

    There are lots of new things since the summer on this trail, many more benches and green sign posts to direct people. This little green post as innocent as it might be was the catalyst of our little family perfect adventure turning into trying to negotiate with a kid who was about to lose it.

The oldest who got there first, as he had to be sure to ‘dig’ his way quickly, enjoyed reading the sign and telling us what was allowed on the trail and what was not, and which way the arrow was pointing. It was all done in pure innocence and amazement of this little green post. However, the little guy in the sled now realized why he was in the sled, it was to contain him. He saw his older brother with the green post loving it, enjoying it, touching it, and now he saw his own position of not the mighty child riding his own transportation, but that he was in a tiny red railed prison on skies. He would have none of this and vocalized his wants of getting out to also inspect this post, which we let him do hoping it would allow us a few more minutes of the pre-I’m-going-to-lose-it-if-I-don’t-get-my-way  no nap mindset. The boys inspected this little green post for quite a while with happy little faces and tales of what it beholds.

We were about 15-20 feet in to the trail and already 10 minutes has been spent on it. Luckily the hubby the quick intelligent thinker that he is had a great plan- “Look guys! I see another green post ahead! Lets go see that one!” Brilliant, I thought! “And look guys, there is a bench too!” was my added input. They were sold!

     It seemed as though we were back on the trail, I was able to take a few pictures, the oldest was back to digging and smacking anything he could with the shovel and the youngest was happily dragging his own shovel. We got to the new little green post that was also inspected by the oldest as our youngest climbed on the bench. As we tried to entice the 2 yr old to keep walking, the 3.5 yr old decided he wanted to ride in the sled. Him and his dad started along the trail while I tried even harder to convince the 2 year old we should keep going on our super fun awesome hike. That didn’t work at all.

     However, seeing his older brother in his sled was enough to convince him to chase them down, as best he could while wearing an extra 5 pounds of winter clothes, while calling them out. By that little dash he was pooped and also wanted to sit back in his throne. We got them all settled again and started to go.

     Little guy once again realized this was not throne with a daddy chauffeur but a red railed prison, and now one that had his brother taking up most of the room. He vocalized his unhappiness about this also and got back out to freedom. But he was also not happy about this. We tried pointing to another green post up along the way but it meant nothing to him now. It was at that moment we realized the no-nap blues won that day and we were not to go any further on the hike. We turned the sled around and told him we would go home. “Snack?” “Ya, we’ll get you a snack buddy” “Drink?” “Ya one of those too…” and he sat back in the sled with his older brother (who now wanted nothing to do with the sled of course, but he was a trooper). 

       So that was our hike. Not much of one, but a beauty of it, and if anything, it did leave me wanting more. It might not have been the best for the boys in terms of the day and time we went, and I probably should have brought timbits or something to win them over so we at least had a chance. But no matter what, I will still count it as a win. It is a beautiful trail and their additions of benches and those lovely little green posts just make it seem like more of an adventure and a legitimate place to go for a walk in any season. It is a great place to go in the winter for a taste of nature, to hear the winter birds, to see how many nests are in the trees that are now uncovered, and to even go cross country skiing if that’s your thing.

     And most importantly, I will never forget the image of my two little guys that I love so much, sitting together in that little wooden sled with one red shovel and one blue shovel dragging beside it as my husband pulls them along. That is exactly the reason why I love hiking,for the memories.

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