Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keep It Local: Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Winter

Woohoo! We made it outside of the house! Facing a day off of school yesterday, mom was determined to get us out and about. Inevitably packed museums? 28 degrees outside? No problem. We bundled up and headed out to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, which we apparently visit only during times of extreme temperatures -- it was about 105 on our last visit there in the summer. Oh how different it was today and just as amazing.

why, yes. that is my mitten I threw in with the stick. 
good thing there were plenty of other sticks around with which mom could retrieve it.

Pool upon pool of frozen wetland (and signs warning of no ice skating) waited for us today. And geese. Tons and tons of geese. And geese poop. Tons and tons of geese poop. The frozen water only slightly abated mom's (somewhat irrational) wetland fears (remember our trip to Huntley Meadows?) and we tested her comfort level and the frozen ponds by throwing a whole variety of things onto the ice. For about 40 minutes.

We had just decided to move on when two geese came screeching in for a slippery landing on some ice and fell right through (see, mom's not completely irrational). They were stuck. You could see them looking at each other like, "ummm... yeah, now what?" One eventually decided to take it for the team and began breaking through the ice while the other got to simply follow along swimming. It was pretty awesome.

We brought our new bug observers with us, but couldn't find any buggies. Instead I suggested that we "examine geese poop. 'cause there's lots of that." So we did. Don't worry -- no touching was involved. We found big poop, full of berries. Long, green poop. And we talked a lot about what examining animal poop could tell us. Cami said monkey poop might have bananas in it. And I said that meant they probably lived in banana trees. No monkeys, but we found some cool dried seed pods and we broke those apart. I saved the seeds inside my bug catcher to use as bait for catching bugs. Cami collected rocks -- you know, for bugs who eat rocks.

All throughout our walk we talked about what wildlife we could find in the winter. We found some frozen deer tracks. And Cami pretended to fish a lot, but I said I didn't think there was any big fish under the ice. BUT, as we were leaving, a blue heron swept down and pulled two fish right out of the water! The bird held them in its mouth, tails flip flopping and shining in the sun, before gulping them down right in front of us (OK - it was on the other side of a pond, but still). Mom was stunned, and she doesn't even like birds.

All in all, an excellent cold adventure out of the house and one that convinced mom that even if it's below freezing, we will be OUT!

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