Yesterday I took the girls on a snow walk through the prairie near our house. The weather was beautiful - for February - around 38 degrees. They didn't want to go out at first, but we ended up exploring for two hours (walking a whopping two miles!) and having a wonderful time. They insisted on bringing a broom along so that they could sweep the snow off the ice and go skating, but alas, the snow was too wet and tall for our broom, so they ended up carrying the broom for naught. But the broom did make a nice flag for their parade!
We discovered a patch of tall wild grasses that the girls decided to hide in. Sadly Megan's bright pink and purple snow gear doesn't lend itself well to camouflage. The big tufty seed heads (I don't know what you call them) were great for marching with, though.
Then we played the hide-and-seek game that we invented during our last walk, where the seekers have to track the hider's footprints in the snow to figure out where she is hiding. The girls sometimes try to trick me by doubling back on their footprints, but yesterday I found them hiding in this twiggy thicket.
Sometimes I try to trick the girls by following the deer footprints that we see, but they always find me pretty easily, too. I am careful to make my tracks easy to follow, and I usually keep an ear and an eye out for them while they are seeking me to make sure they don't venture off too far in the wrong direction. But I love it that they have a chance to experience an "alone in the wild" feeling, at least kind of. :)
At one point, Megan was trying to climb a pile of snow covered branches, and she unwittingly led us into very deep snow drifts. She was able to walk along the top without sinking too far in, but I ended up in a snow drift that came up to my upper thigh, and then my boot got stuck under a branch and I had a hard time getting myself out. And Amelia sunk in a little and got her boot stuck, too, so I had to wade over in very tall snow to help pull her out. It was fun, but I would have loved a pair of snowshoes! Once the girls got to the top of the pile, they enjoyed jumping into the snow pile.
We followed some deer trails through the cattails, in the hopes of stumbling across another secret frozen pond, but we mostly found a marshy cattaily maze instead. This is the best picture I got of the girls together on our exploring walk, because they like to be the leaders and I always have to be at the end, the caboose as they call me. Usually I take a lot of pictures of their backs as I am following them.
In addition to the deer tracks, we also saw what I thought were rabbit trails, and then this mysterious trail that we thought maybe belonged to a mouse, or other small rodent. The girls originally thought it belonged to a snake, but we could see tiny little foot/paw prints amidst the curvy snaky trail (and I told them snakes don't come out in the winter in Wisconsin). We also some some very tiny footprints that may have belonged to a chipmunk. I am not an expert tracker by any means, and I wish I knew more about identifying animal tracks.
The girls found some dried flower heads with lots of seeds, and they discovered that if they whacked the flowers, the seeds would go flying out and make black specks on the snow. They thought that was great fun!
Then we came to the frozen pond, and the girls immediately wanted to lay down in the vast expanse of mostly untouched snow... although there were enough deer tracks that the girls decided the deer must have had a parade across the pond. And when they lay down in the snow, they immediately want to eat it.
While they were busy eating snow, I made a few snowballs and surprised them with a snowball fight. At first they were indignant that I would throw snow at them (!) but then they got in the spirit of it, and Amelia snuck up behind me and nailed me in the face when I turned around, and Megan got my right at the back of my neck so that the snow fell down the back of my shirt. I managed to get Amelia in the forehead and Megan right in the tummy, and then I purposefully missed quite a lot so they could laugh at me and try to get me instead. They were delighted with themselves when they managed to hit me with a snowball. It was fantastically fun!