the day with no squirrels

There was a surprisingly nice bout of warm weather about three weeks ago, and of course that meant I would try to take full advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. Monday saw us at Otterspool, at our usual meetup with our friends. Typically, I’m so worn out after that that all I want to do is veg for the next three days, but spurred on by the warm temperatures, I hauled Ares and Raspberry on a train up to Formby, to the squirrel reserve. We’d been there once before, with Carrie and Lucy, back in April. However, during that instance, the kids spent hours playing in the sand at the picnic area and we didn’t get much further than that. I made the deliberate decision to avoid the sandy bit, as I was determined to actually take a walk through the woods and see some squirrels this time around. [Spoiler alert: we didn’t see any squirrels, but we did chance upon two rabbits hiding in the bushes, as we were leaving.]

This was the first of many tree stumps she stood on.

And the first of many blackberries she picked.

We found a den (interestingly, not far from the sand pit I was trying to avoid)! It looked so cool and Raspberry tried to turn it into a yurt, with pots to cook with.

I enlisted a tired, grumpy and clingy Ares to pick up sticks (not for a game), just so I could rest my weary arms.

Oh hey, there happened to be food in Raspberry’s backpack, ready to be cut up and cooked. Ares wanted a turn too. They fought over it and I decided that it was time to move on (as awesome as this den was, I didn’t relish the thought of spending the next few hours there, sitting on a pokey ground blanketed with pine needles and pinecones, while the kids ran around. Next time, I’ll bring a book and we can do that).

Hello, dead tree.

Inspired by Olivia’s attempt to feed the pigeons in Olivia in Venice, Raspberry tried to hold out a handful of blackberries for the birds.
Much to her disappointment, they never came.

We followed an asparagus trail (not its proper name, but we so named it because of the pictures of asparagus next to the arrows), which led us away from the pine forest into the woods. We were under the impression that we might come upon a field of asparagus, but being directionally-challenged, I feared getting lost, so we turned back. [Upon further research, I now know there are actual asparagus fields; we’ll have to go the next time around.]. Also, I liked the pine forest better, as it had a more ethereal, magical quality to it than just a plain ol’ forest.

There were quite a few tree stumps in this area, and we made a game out of trying to climb on to every one. Ares enjoyed it but as one might expect, the seven-year-old lost interest soon enough. She discovered a path lined with brambles, promptly named it “Blackberry Alley” and went to town picking and munching away. This happened to be the day Ares started picking blackberries on his own.

Ares and Raspberry stuck pinecones in the hollow of a stump.

As much as I enjoyed the day and the quietude of the woods, I did get a little freaked out by how isolated it felt. Granted, it was a weekday and there were several other people walking their dogs or hiking with their kids, but there was still an overwhelming sense of solitude that scared me in the if-we-get-lost-no-one-will-find-us-and-we’ll-never-get-home sense. It’s completely unfounded, since for the most part, we stayed on the path, but I suppose I’m just not used to being in such a vast, peaceful space alone. I was quite relieved every time we saw other people, even more so when we finally left and headed back out into the sunshine. I think the next time we go, we’ll go with our friends, just to up the fun factor, and oh, so I won’t have that unwarranted feeling of isolation too.

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