Thursday, May 01, 2008
Heralds of Spring
This week we went to what is affectionately known in these parts as "The Snake Pits". It is a favourite picnic spot officially known as "The Salt River Day Use Area" just inside Wood Buffalo National Park. It is a fine example of karst topography and there are lovely hiking trails that range from 700m to 7km. We often picnicked here when I was growing up - winter, spring, summer, and fall. Hopefully our little family will continue with that tradition.

We decided it would be fun to take Dwayne's parents to see the snakes. We had to take advantage of it while the garternsnakes were still at the caves. It's not something you can plan or schedule. The snakes' migration is completely weather dependent and so each year is different.

These little guys are a sure sign that spring has arrived. They venture out as the snow melts and the weather gets into the double digits to sun themselves on the exposed rocks and brown earth. After a week or so of sunning and snuggling up to potential mates they make a several kilometre trip to their summer grounds. I didn't realize garter snakes swam until today. They actually go down a steep cliff, swim across a small river, go up a cliff on the other side, and then slither on down the road to their favourite vacation spot.

After viewing the snakes we had a hot dog roast at the fire pit and the older kids had a great time running around the flat area overlooking the Salt River. We brought a ball along and Hendrik and Riley had great fun chasing it and each other around. Abby had a good nap. :)

While we were there several other families we knew arrived with their little ones to see the snakes. We were lucky enough to be there when one of the park wardens (who was fittingly named Birch) arrived, excited to talk with the kids about the snakes. He picked one up and let the kids touch the snake if they wished. One of the kids asked if the snake had a name. The park warden said he didn't think so. Hendrik piped up, "His name is No Feet." (No Feet is the snake from the "Little Bear" series.)

After several trips up the trail to see the snakes it was time to go home. Hendrik was heartbroken. He did not want to leave the snakes. He sat beside me on the benches by the fire pit sobbing and sobbing. Mid cry he looked up at me with a very serious face and said, "This is no laughing matter," and then resumed crying. Oh my!

The kids were pretty exhausted at the end of the afternoon and we thought that they would likely fall asleep in the van during the first few minutes of the drive home. Wrong! There was a great deal of sadness from Hendrik about not seeing the snakes again that day and some sympathy sounds added by Riley. We stopped at the drug store on our way to Mom and Dad's for supper to pick up diapers and these little guys as a suprise...

Hendrik has named them "No Feet" (from "Little Bear") and "Kaa" (from "The Jungle Book"), respectively. :)

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posted at 10:48 PM  

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Sarah Jane Meister said...

What a sweet story! Poor little Hendrik, not wanting to leave the snakes. :) I love the names he has given the two you got for him.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger lindsey elizabeth g said...

I miss the snakes! Sounds like fun, still looks a little cold up there. The leaves are coming out here now, it's lovely.

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Aunt Karen said...

Jenny, I am so enjoying your blog! Gran'ma has been passing the updates on to me lately. Would you mind adding me to your mailing for updates? I would so love that. I am a romantic at heart and get all warm and fuzzy when I browse your blog! What a delight to see your budding brood explore the world!
Be blessed on Mother's Day. You deserve the "Back Woods Mother of the Year" award.


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