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This weekend we bundled up to do something that was rustic even by Vermont standards.  Uber-outdoorsy.  Not my usual cup of tea.  In fact, my father-in-law was so suprised to see my step out of the mini-van that he exclaimed, "You're coming, too?"  Of course I'm coming.  It's not every day I get to take pictures of Jax's first time ice fishing.

 

To be clear, we didn't fish.  We just hauled our layered selves, with kids and Papa in tow, over to Dewey's Pond in Quechee to check out the annual Youth Ice-Fishing Derby.  I didn't have any grand ideas of this is the most fun since maple syrup season!  But I did have romantic ideas about ice-fishing shacks, families staying warm around wood stoves (oh yes, they have houses and stoves on the ice), and fish just leaping out of little holes in the ground to children's shrieks of delight. 

 

  

 

 

It was neither grand nor romantic.  It was cold and slushy and boring.  I'm sure you probably could have told me that going in, but to be a true Vermonter (well, transplant Vermonter), I guess I had to see it for myself.  And feel it. 

 

 

Did you imagine that the pond would be completely covered in solid ice and a thin yet compact layer of snow, so that walking on it would be very similar to walking in a snowy field or somewhere else very sturdy and terra firma?  Well, we were both wrong. 

 

When I first stepped on the ice (next to a giant hole with big cones around it--very reassuring), I shared my hesitancy with my husband and father-in-law.  They both laughed and told me that there was no way I could fall through.  After talking to some locals, we learned the ice was somewhere between 15-20" thick.  There were houses out there, for goodness sake!  Then how come my feet kept falling through, into the slushy in-between layer of water trapped between the ice and the snow?  I didn't care about the rational, scientific answer.  It's kind of like when people tell you that flying in an airplance is so much safer than driving in a car.  In your logical brain, you believe them.  But when you're in heavy turbulence and the flight attendants are asked to take their seats, your logical brain takes a backseat to your gut and you know with absolute certainty that you're going to die.  Well, everytime I stepped on the snowy lake and my foot fell through about six inches into slushy water, my heart pretty much stopped and I was certain I was doomed for a frozen Vermonty death.  Definitely not the way I plan on leaving this world. 

 

So after I made Papa and JDubbs swear that they would sacrifice themselves to save our kids (which of course they would do anyway, but it was just nice to hear them say it) and my camera if I should go under (a token to remember me by), I relaxed and just let nature take it's course.  Because I'm not going to stop living, no matter if I could fall through ice or crash in an airplane.  And there were pictures to be taken.  Really great ones.

 

 

Yes, it occured to me that it would be hard for JDubbs to sacrifice himself for Em since she was strapped to his chest, but I figured we'd work something out.  He's good like that.

 

Oh, and were you wondering about what this picture from yesterday was all about?  It's apparently a totally normal thing in Vermont to ask your dad to help you put micro-spikes on your boots (like chains for a tire) while wearing your daughter in a Baby Bjorn while standing on a frozen pond.  Totally normal.  And if you're wondering what those sexy leg warmers are that he's wearing, they're called gaiters.  They keep your legs dry.  Wished I had those every time my legs got sucked into the icy underworld. 

 

I am still protesting my residency in Vermont, to some degree.  I own a snazzy winter coat from L.L. Bean.  I have gloves.  I was wearing some amazing silk long johns that JDubbs got me for Christmas that kept me phenomenally warm (I hugely recommend them).  But I still don't own a pair of snowboots or snowpants.  Jeans and my Merrills (those are waterproof sneakers to you Flatlanders) are good enough for me.  Don't imagine me in any of that silly Vermont getup.  I would be wearing flip flops if I didn't value my toes so much.

 

 

See?  Coat casually unzippered, scarf incorrectly wrapped around my neck.  I'm the anti-Vermonter.  A cold anti-Vermonter who probably has frostbite, but here is my subtle protest nonetheless.

 

But back to those who love the winter and all its revelry.  Jax's first snowball fight. 

Well, it was really a game of snowball catch with Papa, but since Jax was terrible at catching and shrinked away from the snow every time it came sailing his way, it was pretty one-sided.

 

 

Click for instant smiles.

 

 

Even got a shot of a snowball mid-flight.  Even though he looks like he's going to catch it, he doesn't.

 

Em was interested, but unimpressed.

 

 

 

 

Excuse me, Mom?  I have a question.

 

Why are we still here?

 

Good question.   Our toes were frozen, lunchtime was upon us, and it was time to head back to dry land.  Jax wasn't that inclined to leave, however.  There was still so much lake to explore and so much snow to eat.

 

 

 

 

When he started making hot dogs out of snow, however, we figured he was probably hungrier than he'd admit and headed home.

 

Did Jax have fun?  Absolutely.  Was it interesting?  Yes.  Unique?  Most definitely. 

Cold, slushy, freaky, and enough ice-fishing to satisfy me for an entire lifetime?  You betcha! 

Have fun next year, boys!

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Tags: Vermont, outdoors, photography

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