i woke up at 8am, to get ready to drive down to westwood to meet up with eliza and her son theo on a winter expedition to ponkapoag bog. google map estimated anywhere from 30-50 minutes, but as i got closer to departure, it told me it'd take about 30 minutes to drive there, about the same amount of time the last time i was there. temperature was in the 30's - cold but not bitterly - and would be comfortable with the right amount of layers. i wore my blue merino sweater and wood socks over some uniqlo heattech thermal underwear. i brought my blue messenger bag, inside my 80D DSLR with the EF-S 18-200mm lens, along with the 60mm macro and the EF-S 55-250mm in case i needed a longer telephoto. i also brought my fuji 3D camera and my gopro, if there was an occasion to use it. i filled my contigo travel tumbler with some yogi tahitian vanilla hazelnut tea. i left my 9:20am.

i got onto the turnpike from harvard square in order to get onto 95 south. at that time of the day there was no traffic and it was smooth driving. i did almost narrowly miss the 95 south exit but once i was on track, it was an easy straight shot down to westwood. i got there 10 minutes early like last time. i parked outside the house and surfed the web on my phone to pass the time before pulling into the driveway at 10am.

eliza met me outside as i got out of the car. both her parents were home; i don't think i've ever met her stepmother before, but her father at least once if not more. he was on the computer playing online bridge with a few other people, it seemed pretty animated as they were discussing various bridge moves. they also had a skittish 4-year old golden retriever named emily who barked at me a few times before hiding. eliza and i hung out in the kitchen, sharing some coffee cake. eliza said theo might be too exhausted from the holidays and might not go, but when he came downstairs he said he was going. eliza made him some eggs and toast, and i had a second piece of coffee cake as we all ate in the dining room. later while eliza was putting away the dishes in the dishwasher, theo showed me the christmas tree in the living room with the various ornaments.

we finally left by 10:40am. learning my lesson from last time (when i got lost), i followed google maps this time around. it took us 12 minutes to drive to ponkapoag bog in nearby canton. for some reason there was a bunch of cars parked outside, about 8, more than i've ever seen before. we surmised that maybe a lot of people had the week off and were out enjoying nature, whether strolling, dogwalking, or cycling. i popped the trunk to get my equipment, changing out of my hiking shoes into my rubber boots.

theo was hoping to see some ice puddles so he could crack them (like mother like son); eliza was worried he'd get his shoes wet. the only bit of wildlife we saw was early on in our walk to the bog, when a group of tufted titmice landed in front of us then flew up into the trees. i was just thinking the other day that i've never seen a tufted titmouse before, at least not that i can remember, even though they're supposedly a common birdfeeder feed. maybe there are just no populations of them where my parents live, which is where i do the bulk of my birdwatching from. i didn't have my camera ready at the time, and by the time i pulled it out of my bag, the birds were up in the trees, and i could only capture silhouettes at best with the bright clouds in the background.

at 11:15am we came upon the trailhead for the bog. i could already see that the wooden planks were exposed and not underwater, unlike back in july. and the good thing about winter hiking is not needing bug repellent. we started walking into the bog.

i've been to ponkapoag bog in the winter before, back in december 2004, more than 17 years ago. just like that time, the surface of the bog was covered in a thin layer of ice that looked like tightly stretched syran wrap. theo attempted to did in toe into the ice at several spots: some were easily broken, others harder to break, not even with a stick. the boardwalks were solid for the most part, though the deeper we walked into the bog, the more semi-submerged and covered in ice. we walked carefully so not to slip and fall. there was no danger of drowning, but getting soaked in freezing temperature would be no fun. like back in july, there was no discernible smell inside the bog. it also felt warmer in the bog, the water and the canopy acting like an insulator.

we were about midway into the bog before we saw two girls slowly walking out. i asked if they made it to the end, they said it was too treacherous. i asked if they at least go to the clearing, they told us they didn't even get that far, but could almost see it. so we stepped aside to let them pass. we kept on going, but got to a point the planks started to sink in the water. it wasn't a big deal for me because i had rubber boots, but eliza and theo would get their shoes soaked, so they decided to wait while i continued ahead. i didn't made it very far though. just like what the girls said, i could almost see the clearing, but the planks were under the water, and i had to break through a frozen top layer of ice just to go forward. i decided not to risk it, i'd already seen a few pitcher plants and that was the main reason why i was here, so i was good as far as our expedition went. i turned back and met up with eliza and theo and we slowly headed back out.

we spent a total of 1-1/2 hours in the bog. we got back to the car by 12:30pm. i drove eliza and theo back to westwood. she was meeting another friend nearby later in the afternoon, so after we said our good byes, i headed back to belmont.

i made good time, this time going from 95 north to route 2. i made it back by 1:15pm. my parents weren't home, they were running errands, first to my sister's godmother's house in central square to pick up her mail, then market basket for some supplies, followed by a yarn trip to the porter square michael's. they got back by 2pm.

i was out in the backyard doing an inspection. all the bird baths were iced up, i tried to remove the ice layer whenever possible. i inspected the daikon radishes and removed that one green caterpillar i saw in a photo from yesterday. out in the front yard, i saw a fluffed-up rabbit hiding in the bushes behind the house. i made it nervous and saw it hopping away.

i found a broken pitcher plant at ponkapoag and forgot i put it in my bag. it gave me a chance to study it more in details. there was a frozen ice pellet in the pitcher itself, and some bog detritus. i didn't see any bugs, insect activities probably stopped months ago.

i made a quick check of the basement grow room. my father seemed to be watering the plants. only thing i did was remove the jade plant and spray it with neem oil. i also topped off the water of the reed plants. the fudingzhu osmanthus continue to lose its leaves. at this point we think maybe because we gave it too much fertilizer. but good news it seems to be making new leaf buds. the other home depot osmanthus - the one who didn't repot - that one seems to be doing well.

my mother made rice noodles for a late lunch. i also had some pan-fried firm tofu my father had prepared.

my father's gyro ball arrived early. the brand is JIN BD, some chinese brand. the one that we got has rainbow lights, not just red like the one alex got me from japan. the shell is completely translucent, so it's easier to see the mechanisms inside, like the electromagnet components. it came with a safety strap and a zippered pouch - neither of which was included with my gyro ball. it also has prettier lights, flashing in a myriad of colors while spinning. my father even tried it using two hands with my gyro ball.

my mother prepared a second serving of chicken gizzards for dinner, i thought we were all done with them from last night. there was also a stirfry of broccoli and cauliflower and another stirfry of leftover christmas ham with cilantro and onions.

after dinner i wheeled out my bicycle from the backyard and returned home. i set up the gopro so it'd shoot a selfie timewarp video of myself riding home. the video was a little dark, until i got closer to the commercial district of cambridge where there was more lights. i also wonder if it even needed to be a timewarp, or maybe i could take a regular timelapse since i'm always in frame. i could also try shooting with maybe a little bit of spotlight from a secondary bike light.

my second set of gopro casing and detachable battery door arrived today. i ordered one earlier with a waterproof housing along with a silicone sleeve and battery door. that set arrived on friday. i tried the waterproof housing first, but the buttons ended up scratching my gopro because it had a rough finish. i decided to return it and get a different set, one that only had a silicone sleeve. i figured since the camera itself is waterproof, not much point in having a waterproof housing, unless you were trying to protect it some heavy duty damage like having it low to the ground on a gravel trail.

the detachable door seemed a little flimsy but it works. the original gopro battery door has a very solid metal material with waterproof sealing. the replacement door is just made of plastic and has a bit of neoprene to keep the door from rattling. the only reason for this door is that it has a hole for recharging the battery without having to open the door. this of course makes the door not waterproof, so they didn't need to bother trying to waterproof it. one thing i found was the opening doesn't allow my regular usb-c cable to fit inside; i need one with a longer insert.