Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
As the meathead and I were going down the front steps, I heard the door open behind me and our youngest said, ``Daddy, wait up.''
On Wednesdays, I usually run a little behind while I try to crank out the extended online Midwest Fishing Report before setting out, so I don't expect any of the kids to be awake.
But there the 8-year-old was, wanting to come along.
I don't allow anyone along on my morning rambles with the meathead.
Not my wife.
Not Jeff Nolan and his rescued Yorkie, Molly, both of them are fixtures on the Chicago River. I shot Nolan down when he suggested coming along on a ramble a year or two ago.
And I love my wife; and find Nolan an interesting cat.
But there are exceptions to every rule.
This morning was the exception.
I made the youngest bundle up in good gloves, layer in his winter coat and hood coat, then pull on his thick Perry cap. The Perry cap is something ridiculous, but warm, based out the ridiculous Phineas and Ferb television show.
While I helped him bundle up, I remembered as a kid waking up some mornings on vacation and making my dad take me along. Our family's one-week vacation each summer was to a cabin in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.
My dad was a quarry man used to getting up before dawn. So on vacation, he would get up before dawn and get out to go trout fishing on the fabled Pine Creek while the morning mists were still lifting off it.
I am sure it was his time as much as the morning rambles are now my time, but he always took me along if I was awake when he left.
This morning made one of those interesting intersections of past and present.
Turned out our youngest was a good companion for the ramble.
Plenty of robins and mourning doves were around and active, even in the brutal chill of this morning.
It was cold, but he was bundled up enough and active enough (I think the excitement of getting out with me that early had him wound up) to stay warm.
Storm loves this weather and it brings out his inner Lab. His friskiness made the 8-year-old laugh.
And he had young eyes.
I told him there would be Canada geese by the island on the south old clay pit and we would need to be quiet.
He noticed and heard the red-winged blackbirds trilling and flying around the north pit. I was happy to see that he was sharp enough to notice those on his own.
And he spotted 14 ducks (too far out for me to identify) on the north pit. A pair of mallards flushed closer to us.
Canada geese raised a ruckus on the lake to the west. As we neared the bridge over the neckdown between the two pits, we noticed the pair of geese swimming in the south pit. They still are not nesting.
The 8-year-old was fascinated by the ice shanty floating on the south end of the south old pit. It's still there, but water-logged now. Or ice-logged. The skim ice patch on the southeast corner of the south pit grew much bigger overnight.
As we neared home, he had enough spunk left after a mile and a half in this unusual March cold to walk the top of the cement wall along our neighbor's yard like a balance beam.