Hammertime: Springtime adventures

Spring mud puddles will always be our children’s greatest adventure

Mike Rainone

Hammertime

How great and invigorating it is.

Like so many others, my wife and I couldn’t wait to shrug off the winter woollies and head outside into these first very wet but wonderful days of spring.

As is always the case, we will all have to sneak around the slush and puddles while watching out for the splashes. But as the sun gets stronger and stays around a little longer, it won’t be long before all the signs of our record breaking 2018-2019 ‘ice age’ have disappeared down the drain.

While enjoying the great outdoors and basking in the sometimes amazing but often stubborn transformation from one unique Alberta season into another, you can’t help watching the sheer excitement and joy of the children as they dash into the slush in search of the biggest puddles.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have just emerged from our ‘winter cocoons’ and are blinking in the bright sun, but will soon get right into the spring mood by sharing greetings with so many others happily passing by with their pets, bikes, strollers, walkers, wheelchairs and all the rest.

We likely have already witnessed that joyful and age old sight of several little duffers wading and dancing through the biggest and deepest mud-puddles that they could find, then screaming with glee if they lose one of their bright colored boots or it became full of very cold water.

How much fun it was and always will be for all those brave and rambunctious little youngsters to venture into the biggest pile of wet and heavy snow in the park or playground where they will attempt to build the last snowman or igloo of the season, but then get stuck and will dare dear old dad to come and pull them out?

We actually had a group of sassy little girls in our neighbourhood who loved to make mud-pies, and then had the nerve of serving them at tea time to the local boys that they didn’t like.

We can’t help but to look back at the great memories that this time of the year brings back from our childhood days, and who really cares how many years ago that might have been?

I am sure that you can all fondly recall that glorious day when our parents, after quite a few strict instructions, let us loose into the mush and slush of spring, wearing those big old black high boots and hoping that they won’t spring a leak.

When we did finally return home for a meal or bed-time we had to ‘undress’ on the back porch and our mother’s noisy old ringer washing machine was always running day and night.

I don’t know if it is still the cardinal rule around most homes today, but when I was a kid and we were sent off in our best school or going to church clothes and shoes — if we dared to get them wet or muddy — we would likely be grounded until summer holidays or at least until the back yard was cleaned up and dug up in time for spring planting.

In our 1950’s Riverside neighbourhood, one of our favourite spring daredevil acts was riding down the golf course hill on our bike or wagon and hitting those humongous puddles at the bottom.

Many succeeded, but some crashed or failed and had to be ‘bailed out’, but when we all got home later soaked or with a big brown muddy strip running from our bum to our neck, we were grounded again, along with our bikes, at least until the Easter holidays.

In those early spring days, we were always warned to stay away from the melting ice on the rivers, lakes and ponds, which could overnight quickly change into extremely dangerous floods or ice-jams.

I sure hope everyone still follows these safety rules today.

But what the heck, by that time the playgrounds will be open and it will soon be time to sign up for baseball, soccer, tennis, community youth groups, football, summer camps and all the rest of the fun events that are going on.

Pretty soon all the kids can also look forward to riding their bikes or skateboards for miles, to start building forts or tree houses, to chasing gophers or to just simply spend many lazy hours hanging out in the hot sunshine or fishing at Three Islands.

On a little more serious side, spring is also that very hectic time when people of all ages are scurrying out and about following their day to day as well as evening schedules, including work, school, church, shopping, appointments, volunteering, visiting family and friends, recreation events and on and on.

Many of us will be behind the wheel of our vehicles, but others will be on foot, bikes, and all the rest, so it is vital for all of us to slow down and keep an eye out for the safety of everyone, especially in school zones, main streets and quiet family neighbourhoods.

Please enjoy your favourite spring fling at your pace, invite family and friends to join in, and have a great week, all of you.

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