Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Warm When Wet




When running outdoor programs for children, educating people on how to dress for the weather is an important role. As a friend of mine that runs an outdoor playgroup in Toronto, ActivekidsClub, always says, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” and on Christmas day, it was brought home to me just how true that Scandinavian proverb is.


A fun game of hockey had left us all exhausted and sleepy, especially from a full tummy of yummy Christmas treats. After a quick power nap, I decided I would enjoy the solace and take a walk by myself and take some photos. I left a note as to where I was going and put on my fleece pants and wool socks, big winter boots that feel like pillows on my feet, my jacket, and headed out into the winter wonderland.

I find some wonderful snow covered objects to take pictures of and I then hear voices behind me. The first people I have seen since I have come up here for the holidays. So I waited for them to catch up, introduce myself and continue walking with them deep in conversation about the holidays, family, cottage life and the lot. New friends were made and I said my farewells when we came upon the local smelt fishing spot. The place where the lake empties into a shallow creek and the vistas are worthy of my novice camera photo shooting.

I see a few things and take pictures, thinking it is really neat how the ice hangs off the end of the plant. As I take my eye away from the camera, I notice mice tracks in the snow. Very cool how they zig zag in the snow and disappear in the subnivean world. As I get up, I see the water seeping up into the snow, and think, I better not walk too much further, and the ice is thin here. From my experience in this creek, I know it isn’t too deep, but don’t take any chances, the water will still be very cold. You never know, there could be a deep spot right below me. So I make my way back.

As I climb up the bank, I look back and notice interesting tracks in the middle of the creek just a bit further up. I can’t make out what it is even looking through my zoom lens and wonder what they are. They look like something is dragging behind it; in-between the paw prints… a beaver, muskrat, and river otter? I had to find out. But looked out and made the call that walking out there was too dangerous.

As I looked around though, I noticed that perhaps if I stayed on the banks, I could get a closer look. So moved myself along the banks of the creek to get a closer look. Concentrating on where the tracks are, I stepped off the bank onto the creek and broke through the ice and fell into the freezing water up to my thigh. The biting cold water filled my boot quickly and soaked through my fleece pants. Not the nicest words came out of my mouth. Not because I fell through, but because I wouldn’t be able to get closer to find out what those tracks were- another day perhaps. But being about 30 minutes away from my cottage, I decided I better not take a chance with being wet and head home.

As I climbed back onto the road my leg becomes extremely cold, but I notice that my feet were ok. Thank goodness I put on my wool socks today, the one thing that is keeping my leg from freezing. So I pull my fleece pants out of my boots, sopping wet with icy cold water, unzip the leg and pull up my wool socks as far as they go and continue to walk. Thinking, my feet are going to be so frigging cold by the time I get back.

As I head down our steep hill to my cottage, I realize that my pant leg and boot are frozen, but my feet are still relatively warm. Wool really does keep you warm even when wet.

As I take my boots off, I give thanks to my wool socks that kept my legs and feet warm on the journey. I dump out the icy cold water and wait for my boots to thaw so that I can take the insoles out to dry.

I will be investing in some wool pants next time I go into town. There is an army surplus store in town that has them.  Today, I am very thankful for wool. It really does keep you warm… even when it is wet. 

To find out more about Nature's Backpack programs for children ages 3-14, please visit our web page www.naturesbackpack.ca