My son, Silas, recently had a couple of long weekends. In fact, just recently he had a three-day weekend immediately followed by a four-day weekend. I don't remember that ever happening for me while I was in school. I remember a couple three-day weekends here and there, mostly for boring stuff such as Presidents Day. I'm sure Presidents Day is immensely special to some people, such as the four currently living ex-presidents, Barack Obama, and anyone desperate for a new mattress, but to the rest of us it's just a day. It's a good day for Silas, who doesn't have to go to school and a frustrating day for me because my employers — like me — don't consider Presidents Day any kind of a holiday.
For Silas' average two-day weekend I am completely happy with a play date or two with a friend, maybe eating a pizza and rounding out the weekend by watching America's Funniest Home Videos (Silas and I are big fans). Once the three- (or dreaded four-) day weekend descends upon me I feel pressure to do something more. In fact, that pressure usually comes from Silas demanding, "Can't we do something fun?" Apparently watching me take out the garbage and feed the cats doesn't really cut it with him for day off excitement.
A couple weekends ago I was in a tough spot. There were no kid movies playing at the theaters, Silas was not impressed with my offer to take him to Scienceworks, nor did he seem thrilled by my previously chosen activity of carefully sorting all the single socks that had accumulated over the last couple of weeks into pairs.
Once I sorted my socks (I found 21 pairs. Apparently I never wash any socks together in the same load. Ever.) I offered Silas a messy, muddy adventure. Silas is an 8-year-old boy — I had him at muddy. With that we were off on out wintertime adventure to Emigrant Lake.
Silas was suitably impressed with the old cemetery. We wandered around looking at the old gravestones and reading off the old dates. Silas asked a couple times how old I would have been in 1865 before we headed off toward the mud, otherwise known as the lakeshore.
Emigrant Lake is muddy at the best of times. In the cold of winter the lake is much lower than in the summer and even more of the muddy banks are exposed. Silas and I slogged through the mud and the burrs to the old road running into the lake and made that into our path. I told Silas about the foundation of the gas station that lies under the lake, and we built towers of flat rocks.
In the end it was a good day, and I think I was able to show Silas a good time on one of his many three-day weekends. I rarely swim in Emigrant Lake, even in the summer. I like the fact that there's a lake close by, but I'm terrified the weeds I can feel brushing against my feet as a swim are in fact the fingers of a grindylow trying to pull me under. I may have read the Harry Potter books a few too many times. Basically my chances of swimming in Emigrant Lake, whether it be summer or winter are about the same, in that I would get in the water if Silas fell in and I had to rescue him. Emigrant Lake is fun for hikes and mud and making rock towers, and can really be enjoyed by Ashlanders year 'round in some capacity.
After I'm done telling Silas how old I was in 1865 I'll move on to explaining why the waterslides aren't open during the winter. I'm sure the explanations will make about an equal amount of sense.
Zoe Abel is still scraping the mud off the bottom of her shoes. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.