Vail Novice Father: Dad rediscovers warm spring days |

Vail Novice Father: Dad rediscovers warm spring days

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-Being winter-based people, we in Colorado’s Vail Valley tend to have mixed emotions about the changing of the seasons. The optimism that comes with spring gets tempered with nostalgia for the dying ski season.

In a year of many firsts, this is the first winter’s-end for my 1-year-old daughter. As someone who can’t ski, she spent the winter trapped inside, learning how to become mobile on the carpet, stairs and wood floors. Now that the snow melted away into green(ish) grass, there’s a brave new world available to her for the first time ever.

Spring for a new father means the air is warm enough to stay outside for at least a little while, the sun stays in the sky well past getting home from work, and the Kid doesn’t need to be bundled in more layers than a Mexican bean dip.

As opposed to their winter counterparts, outside adventures this spring occur spontaneously. And they can take place 10 feet from the backdoor.

The grass is the perfect surface for practicing walking. There are also sticks to grab, birds to point at, and leaves to put in mouths.

The Kid’s still a little skeptical about the grass, though. Whenever I sit her down in it she’s not quite sure what to do. Instead of crawling around exploring her new world as I would have expected, she looks perplexed, not willing to place her hands down. She acts like a cat in a puddle of water, trying to minimize the amount that is actually touching her body. But who can blame her? She only knows snow.

I’m all geared up to take advantage of pleasant spring days. I’ve got the jogging stroller. I’ve got the child trailer for the bike. I’ve got the hiking backpack that the Kid goes in. All I need is a baby kayak and the Kid and I can start training for the Eco-Challenge.

While that gear allows us to go all over, the best adventures happen in the backyard. A handful of aspen trees grow there. These trees are the highlight of our backyard explorations (to me, at least).

Last summer I would carry the Kid out and we would inspect the leaves. I explained to her that the green leaves of summer would turn into the yellow leaves of fall. And they did. In the fall I carried her out and explained that those yellow leaves would then all fall off the trees in the winter. And they did.

A few weeks ago my daughter and I went back out to the naked trees and I explained that soon the branches would sprout their spring buds. And now they are.

I enjoy looking like I know what I’m talking about. My daughter’s one. I worry that I only have so long until she realizes most of the time I make this stuff up.

So together we inspect the tips of the aspen trees’ branches. Little baby leaves make their debut … right at the same time that the Kid made her debut one year ago. This time around we’ll watch those leaves grow and change and fall away all over again.

I feel sad that winter is over and I won’t ski for six months. But there is something about spring and the world of possibilities the season represents. I look forward to experiencing it with a daughter who now will appreciate the details.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments to

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