This past Monday at 11:30 it was 52-degrees and sunny. I called my daughter’s school to ask if the kids were, finally, after weeks of indoor recess, going to go outside. The answer was no. Reasons? There may be some ice on the playground. (I’m sure that it’s all slushy by now, not at all dangerous). Not all kids have boots. (Couldn’t a note be sent home asking that kids please come to school prepared to play outdoors. Couldn’t we collect an assortment of boots and snowpants to keep in the classrooms for those children who come unequipped for the weather?). Even if the kids did have boots and gear, they would track mud into the school afterward. (But the classrooms all have doors that exit directly to the playground path. Isn’t it feasible that the kids could leave their muddy boots by the door, just like they do at home, before coming back inside?). Additionally, if the playground equipment really is too slick to play on safely, why not take to the nature’s playground–the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail–that meanders right through the school grounds. What is really the bottom line here? Too much liability? Too much trouble? Too little importance placed upon going outside? A bit of each?

After this conversation I got on the phone to rally a group for an after school walk. The weather was going to turn cold again in a couple of days, let’s capitalize on this while we can. I later learned that another friend, incensed that the kids would again be taking only a five-minute walk along the paved path in front of the school, made enough of a racket that some of the children did, in fact, get out to the playground for a short time.
The clouds started to roll in shortly before the bus arrived home, and the temperature dropped about 10-degrees in anticipation of the coming snow.We bundled up into our gear and headed out to the Brook Trail in Rockefeller State Park with some pals.

My husband’s cousin gave us the book A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss for Christmas. One of my favorite pages in this endearing vocabulary storybook for children says, “Mud is to jump in and slide in and yell doodleedoodleedoo.” So that is just what we did.  The kids stomped in puddles and followed the horseshoe tracks, mucked about in the brook and tossed snowballs into the water. Climbed trees and squeezed into hollows.  And though we did have one casualty involving a slippery fallen tree and a bitten lip, the kids had a good time and headed back up the trail soggy, filthy, and singing.

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