Sprinter Break 2014: Extreme Edition

All I can offer, as a way to explain the events of the last two days of ‘Sprinter Break’, is that we must have (on some subconscious level) recognized that eight days of wintery houseboundedness had sucked and so we needed to give our children something to really remember when they conjured up thoughts of Spring Breaks past.

Sunday began in much the same way the previous 8 days had begun; staring out the window, observing either (a) that it was still snowing, or (b) more snow had piled up on the car and sidewalks while we’d slept.

The professor was on a mission to catapult us into the great outdoors, especially since I’d mentioned the previous day that I was weary of being responsible for 99.99% of the (ill-received) recreational planning chez nous.

So he took it upon himself to make lunch (burgers and fries), all while reminding the boys that we were going on a walk after lunch, ‘irregardless’ of their protestations. Which is how we found ourselves sitting in our unfashionable minivan shortly after 2pm, with the professor in the driver’s seat.

‘Let’s go to Nose Hill,’ he decided.

‘Did you say Noah’s Hill,’ Percy piped up from the back. Which was vaguely humorous the first time, and notatall, the three or four times he said it after we’d already explained that it was NOSE hill not NOAH’s hill, as though he were a hard-of-hearing senior.

It was, how do you say, the kind of day where the mere thought of being outside made you want to weep and drown yourself in hot chocolate. But of course I could say none of this since the professor was making such an effort to plan our recreation and also we hadn’t really left the house in 4 days.

We got to Nose Hill and climbed out of the van and the complaints started almost instantly. Because yes, our children aren’t terribly excited about going on walks and communing with nature, but also: it was freezing. And I don’t mean freezing in the sense that the temperature was less than balmy, I mean freezing in the sense there was a wind blowing that could potentially sever a limb.

‘How is it that it’s suddenly 10 degrees colder here than anywhere else,’ the professor wondered aloud. I looked at him. ‘Do you really need me to spell it out?’ I motioned towards the desolate exposed hill before us.

‘It’s a hill. And there are no trees.’

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photo courtesy of my not-an-iphone-camera

So we walked. And the younger boys wept bitterly. And it felt like a scene out of Cormac Mccarthy’s The Road (even though I haven’t technically read it.) A biker perched on a space-age looking bike with comically enormous snow tires passed us. I realize I’m not ‘adventurous’, but who in their right mind chooses to go biking in such conditions?

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Finally the professor allowed us to turn around and, as we headed back to the minivan, I offered him the conclusion I’d reached during the howevermanyminutes we were tromping through the snow with our eyes shut. ‘This is the worst walk ever.’ He shook his head. ‘No it’s not, not even close.’

Though I know I’ve taken ma famille on some terrible walks, I was unable to think of a worse one. ‘Top 5, at least,’ I insisted.

We’d bribed the boys with the promise of hot chocolate at a nearby coffee shop. So we climbed back in the van and drove to the coffee shop with the ‘hot chocolate that tastes better than Starbucks,’ according to the Hen.

We got out of the van, after some painful negotiation regarding who could order what, and as we got to the entrance, noticed a little sign that said: ‘closed for private function.’

Of course!

So we drove to a nearby Chapters bookstore, purchased subpar Starbucks drinks and sat by the train table in the kids’ section for almost two hours, browsing through magazines and books. While Percy offered loud, laced-with-sound-effects, running commentary about the Thomas trains colliding on a bridge.

Truly a fine way to spend an afternoon.

On the last day of Spring Break, I thought I’d try to remedy the previous day’s failed outing by taking the boys sledding. Despite enduring the world’s longest, snowiest winter, I’d only taken the boys sledding….once. In November.

‘You should go on that big hill by the University,’ the professor suggested, ‘then you can drop me off at work.’

I donned my pair of snowpants for the second time all winter, helped Percy with his, and many minutes later we were in the car on the way to the big hill. Which was conspicuously void of any other revellers.

‘Lucky us,’ I enthused as I parked the car and dumped the sleds on the ground.

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The older boys hopped on a sled and took off. I climbed into the other sled while Percy squeezed in behind me (he doesn’t like being in the front). We traversed down the hill in a white blaze of glory.Perhaps the reason the hill was empty was because seasoned toboganners realize that sledding on top of several inches of fresh ‘powder’ is less than ideal.

At least that was my conclusion when I went down for a second time with the Hen sitting in front of me and the snow attacked my face so fiercely, it felt like a windshield in a blizzard when the wipers can’t keep up, even on crazy-high speed.

I could.not.see anything and it was mildly terrifying. And also freezing.

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Post sled ice-dreadlocks

We called it a day and went home to make Pierre Herme’s chocolat chaud. Percy dropped one of my Spode mugs on the ground and it shattered, which inspired me to check my email and learn that his school was back in session, so we piled in the van and headed for preschool.

Where we sat in the parking lot for several minutes, waiting for the doors to open.

 

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