Raising Driftless Kids

Ainsley Anderson

I have a confession to make: I don’t particularly enjoy cold weather. I can do without the drippy noses, frozen digits and bundling-up of children that comes with it. I hunker down and bear the cold weather. In winter, I’m a lot happier with a hot beverage on a sunny morning enjoying the views from inside, looking out on the snow-covered land — bonus if there’s hoar frost on the trees and a fire in the fireplace. I love making hot chocolate for my children after they’ve played in the snow. I’m a big fan of the comfort food that I’m drawn to in my hibernative state during the cold months.   

I’m grateful that my husband is happy outdoors in almost any weather and he encourages our children to get out in it. I admit it: Cold weather is one of my parenting struggles. That’s one thing, though, about parenting … we’re allowed to have preferences. I love being outdoors with them in spring, fall and most of summer. I’d just rather explore in the mud and squishy grass with them than roll in the snow. 

I find optimism in spring: the return of the red-winged blackbirds, buds on trees and longer days. Sending the kids out to play again after dinner when there’s still light is glorious. I am looking forward to tucking my winter jacket and boots away in favor of my sandals and a denim jacket. I am looking forward to peeking green shoots popping up from the ground and observing their reach as I enjoy a muddy hike or freshen up my planting beds. 

I am looking forward to our ever-evolving and improving garden, getting my hands in the dirt, and getting my kids involved with it more. Every year they become slightly more invested in the garden and the process of watching things grow, defending the plots against critters, and enjoying the harvest.   

I need this optimism after two years of navigating parenthood, anxiety, social distancing and new ways of living in the midst of a pandemic. I’m optimistic that we’re going to turn a corner and find a new normal that vaguely resembles what we knew before. Spring sports practices are on the horizon and returning to our running-around schedule doesn’t sound too bad, although I must admit there was something nice about the slowness of not running around as much over the past two years.

I’m looking forward to venturing further afield, discovering new places and activities to share with you as we redefine normal. Jumping in the car and getting back out into the Driftless has never sounded so fabulous. I have missed travel and adventure, but that feels more attainable now. So, with renewed optimism, I wish you a very happy and adventurous spring! Now, take a hike with the kids, discover some new trails, and breathe in that spring air! (But, watch out for mud. As much as I enjoy the smell, it is slippery.)

Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is a teacher who enjoys sharing her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.