Between backyard toboggan runs, I pulled Ethan down to the river, where we sat on the bank and threw snow into the water. The top layer of snow was crusty from several days of below-freezing weather, yet the lower layers still packed into snow balls. Ethan watched the snow chunks and snow balls snow turn from pure white to dull gray the moment they plunged beneath the surface.
The river was about half iced over and left only a couple-foot gap between the ice sheet and the bank where we sat. Straw-colored prairie grass protruding into the narrow channel of flowing water did its best to snag the floating snow as it tried to pass by. Ethan saw many of the pieces get stuck, but the little chucks snuck through, and the huge pieces plowed through the log jams.
In the past, an activity like this would hold Ethan attention for a few seconds or maybe minutes. But out here, comfortably bundled and with few other distractions (the ducks had left), Ethan seemed like he could have stayed for hours. Daddy, though, was good for about half an hour, as we tried a few different spots along the river bank, before I was ready to go back to sledding. Ethan loves sledding, so it was an easy sell.