An Icy Halsey Pond

After our month(or so)-long holiday hiatus, Kids Unplugged was back on the trails today with a Wacky Wednesday Walk at one of our favorite venues, Halsey Pond in Irvington. With a high of about 31-degrees today, I was pleased to see a nice bunch of families at the trail head, bundled up and rearing to go.

The big draw today was the ice that was everywhere. Covering the pond and spilling over the path in spots like miniature rinks, the kids were in their glory digging, poking, and whacking away at it with sticks. Watching them it seemed to me such an instinctual behavior, taking up a stick and trying to poke one’s way through an icy surface. I can remember doing that as a kid, wanting to see if I could get through, trying to guess the depth of whatever surface I was digging at. The girls and boys each seemed to have their own approaches to the ice, and though it irks me to play into typical gender-related play stereotypes, their approaches were decidedly different. While the girls spent the bulk of their time lying on their stomachs, leaning out a bit over the pond from the shore a looking for vulnerable spots to poke their sticks through, the boys favored a more commando-like style, lifting large sticks over their heads and bringing them down forcefully in attempts to break through. All of them, however, enjoyed sitting along the shoreline and thwacking away at the ice with their boot heels!

They were also all equally enthralled with spinning and sliding on the large ice-puddles we found along the path and most of them, boys and girls alike, toted large sticks for the duration of the hike. There were continual forays off the path toward the edge of the pond for more digging and poking and there were continual reminders from the grown-ups on hand not to lean to far over the ice and to keep their bottoms on the shore.

In this vein there was also a lot of talk about ice-safety, why you should never, ever try to walk on a frozen pond or lake unless you are with an adult who is very familiar with reading the ice. We talked about warm spots in a body of water that may not freeze and why it is difficult to judge whether or not a surface is safe to walk upon.  We talked about being careful near the shoreline when there is snow on the ground because you maynot realize that you are standing on the pond rather than on the ground when everything is covered with snow.

But mostly we just walked and the kids whacked at the ice and skittered broken pieces of ice and small sticks across the pond’s surface. We listened to the quiet of the afternoon and listened to that echo-y blub-blub sound of the water bubbling up below the ice. And then we hiked down the trail with the setting sun.

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