We head to the lake whenever it's warm enough to swim without our teeth rattling. Our closest one is Lake Harriet, but Minneapolis is just full of great swimming holes/nature adventures waiting to happen.
Here are my top ten reasons for loving our wonderful urban lakes:
10. Sand, sand, sand. An endless supply of it. The kids make towers, riverbeds, and ice cream cones in the sand. And who doesn't love having their feet and legs buried?
9. L's brilliant creation: Sand Angels. (think of snow angels, in summer)
8. The glorious cocktail of smells! Seriously! Have you ever noticed all the smells in the air on a summer day near the water? Take your kids to the lake and ask them what they can smell.
7. The tiny fish in Lake Harriet. I believe they are sunfish. My kids are positively thrilled whenever they appear. L is determined to "get one" by catching it with her hands. You go, girl. I love that they are not afraid to play in a lake when there are fish around! (when I was a kid, my mom was utterly horrified by the thought of this, and therefore so was I, and so we rarely if ever swam in lakes)
6. Our urban lakes are home to lots of cool birds including mallards, canada geese, American Coots, and even, in early spring, the Common Loon. My kids love to watch around the lake. And these are great ones to watch: not afraid of people, generally easy to spot, fairly slow-moving, and active throughout the day.
5. The water is generally warm enough that the kids are happy to play and play and play in it. For a really long time. Lake water is so different from pool water. It feels different on the skin. No chlorine. (although the lakes are decidedly NOT chemical free, not by a long shot) Water has an amazing ability to soothe the soul, no? Have you ever laid down in the water, with just your face exposed?
4. Swimming with unseen animals and plants is something I believe everyone should experience. How else are your kids going to learn that this is safe, OK, fun even? See # 7 above.
3. I realize I am a total geek, but I love having the chance to see the great big Milfoil Harvester, whirring around on the lake.
2. Sometimes, it's really windy, and L loves to watch the waves. Sometimes it's loud and makes interesting noises, and it always feels very exciting to be near water that's moving in this way. I remember the first time L experienced this. She hugged her kitty, "Sad Johnny" and just watched and watched the lake.
1. You just never know what you're going to come across.