Wild cucumberThis week in kid-wrangling and WWOOFing, we (the entire family and I) got to visit a near-neighbouring farm with a veritable menagerie of livestock. As we drove up, we were quickly surrounded by five boisterous Chihuahua puppies and two wary Shelties (a bigger dog having been banished to a kennel lest he not like us), with an aloof (yet ultimately playful) tabby cat watching us from a safe distance. After a quick tour of some rare chicken breeds, we headed out to the paddock to greet three foals and two calves – all took a definite interest in how our clothing tasted, and had a clear disdain of all the puppies scampering around their feet.

Breaking through the iceA few days before this, kid #3 and I were sitting on the sofa reading a book. At some point she lost interest (a typical three-year-old has an attention span of about three minutes) and began trying to scrape the stubble off my face with her fingernails, exclaiming, “You face is all scratchy! Holy smokes! Where does it come from?” Shortly after this, kids #3 and #4 were playing in the basement under my supervision when kid #4 noticed a set of light weights used for aerobics exercise. Upon attempting to pick up the lightest (2 lb, I think), he toppled backwards and sat down with the resounding “klunk!” familiar to Peanuts fans everywhere.

St. Norbert stupaAt the weekend, Amy took me down to the nearby neighbourhood of St. Norbert and its Trappist monastery ruins (the monks moved out in 1975 due to urban encroachment, and the structure was burned down in 1983). We weren’t allowed to enter due to ongoing restoration work, but did have free run of the grounds which included, bizarrely, a Buddhist stupa erected by some Bhutanese monks. The former guest quarters is now the St. Norbert Arts Centre, offering various New Age-y workshops such as crystal healing and shamanic astrology, and more practical ones such as cart-building.

Temperatures across the province have been unseasonably warm for the past week or two, and the Red River is well above normal levels due to all the snowmelt. When we went out to King’s Park for a short walk one afternoon, small icebergs were floating past at a not-inconsiderable pace and there was a continuous tinkling (like glass breaking or wind chimes) as they collided with each other against the banks. This was very impressive for a temperate-climate-dweller such as myself, though apparently not quite as awe-inspiring as the first breaking-up of the ice sheet (which I have only been told about).

Red River icebergsRed trees

King's Park ice crystals (2)King's Park ice crystals (1)

Pioneer ox cartAfter a thoroughly relaxing day, kid #3 attempted to get kid #4 into trouble this evening – as we were finishing dinner, her voice drifted through to the kitchen with a distinctive I’m-telling-Mom lilt: “Kid #4 is touching something!”