Catching ourselves some friendly ions

Flying fish outside the Island Bay Marine Education Centre

Wind and madness come hand in hand, it’s scientifically proven…

The Evil Wind

Wind puts people in a bad mood as studies have shown that more fights, crimes, heart attacks and other ills occur when there is an ill wind blowing.

The reason is the positive ions produced by these winds. In the case of these winds and ions, positive is not a good thing.’ Source: How Ions Affect Your Mood

But being near water helps to counteract the positive ions…

‘Vitamins of the air…

Negative ions have been called the vitamins of the air since they help the body by increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain, which results in being more alert and less fatigued. According to Pierce Howard PhD, director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C. “negative ions might also protect us against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.” Normal air is about even in positive to negative ions. When you are near water this ratio increases 2:1 in favor of the negative ions.’ Source: How Ions Affect Your Mood

Houghton Bay with wind whipped waves

So this Sunday we headed down to the bay to test out the science. There was a blustery wind blowing, but the sun was out and there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight. The girls were keen to ride their bikes to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre for one of the ‘Open Days’ (first and third Sunday of the month). Dan rode along on his bike, whilst I walked with Alice in the back-pack (my bike has gone to the doctors to be made fit to ride… it’s been 8 years since I last rode it!).

How would we fare? Would it be a happy Sunday family trip out? Or would it be a family outing marred with a little madness on account of the wind?

On your bikes!

The way there went smoothly with no accidents or upsets (but the wind was pushing us all along from the rear – that’s the kind of helpful wind we approve of – the same kind that dries your washing in an instant).

We arrived at the marine centre, along with hundreds of others, eager to see the creatures of our rocky shores up close. It was all a bit too busy for Charlotte. She wasn’t to be persuaded otherwise and so she elected to stay outside, exploring real rock pools, giving her foot a little stamp of immature impatience and rolling her eyes to the giant fish blowing against the blue sky. Fair enough.

Was this 1-0 to the positive ions?

Island Bay and the Marine Education Centre

With Alice high on my back I enjoyed a quick look in the touch pools with Sophie. She was so enthusiastic and would have spent a lot longer there, but it was so crowded. I was glad Alice wasn’t on ground level – for she would have been trampled for sure! Sophie has chosen ‘animals’ as her learning topic for the moment, with a marine focus this week, and she was so looking forward to identifying some sea-life. I’d laminated a sheet from the marine resources I’d discovered on the Otago University Marine Studies Centre website and Sophie quickly identified a ‘snakeskin chiton‘.

Being near water and those negative ions seemed to be working well for Sophie!

Score update: 1 to the positive ions and 1 to the negative ions.

Touchpool discoveries

Back out into the wind for a run around at the playground. First impressions boded well. There were happy sounds of crazed looniness as the girls careered down the giant slide in the most dangerous positions possible (head first on their backs was a moment of madness!).

Monkey bar climbing and cheering Alice on as she went down the slide went well. But then those pesky positive ions, buffering us about, started to take their toil.

Charlotte was first to crack – a game she was playing with Sophie didn’t quite go to plan. Sophie moved onto the monkey bars before Charlotte had finished getting across. Charlotte screamed at the top of her lungs, embarrassing herself (and making us cringe in parental shame). I gave her a quick telling off and then another child came swinging across the bars, next to Charlotte, practically wiping her out! That was the last straw. Charlotte stomped off to a bench to sulk. I went over to talk things over and was met with, ‘My life is worthless!’. Oh dear! All very dramatic and depressing.

She asked for some space, so I went to join Dan, Sophie and Alice – but couldn’t help feel the positive ions were winning out – in a negative way.

Score update: Positive ions (bad)  2; Negative ions (good) 1.

The turning point…

The turning point on the monkey bars!

Time was now ticking on and we had 2.5km to cycle/walk home.

Alice was getting tired and ready for a nap. She kept wanting me, ‘Mama! Mama!’. She kept wanting to feed. She reached out to me, from Dan’s arms, and accidentally swiped me in the face. I stamped my foot and turned on my heel, before turning and saying (raising my voice a little too much, above the wind…), ‘I’m sorry Dan, I know that was over the top but I’ve had a night of it! She was nursing most of the night off one boob, whilst tugging at the other, and then she got woken up by Sophie’s sleep talking! I’ve had enough!’.

Oh dear!

Score update: Positive ions (bad) 3; Negative ions (good) 1.

Now I had embarrassed myself.

I took Alice in my arms gently and apologetically. I sat on the grass and calmly fed her, hanging my head in shame. Where had the happy, laughing Mama of a few moments ago vanished to? Was it my imagination or had the wind got sharper and colder since we set out this morning?

Dan rounded up Charlotte and Sophie for the return ride. I tried to put Alice in the backpack, but her body buckled and she cried, ‘No!’. I knew she was tired. I saw Dan and the girls making their way to the playground exit – were they leaving without me and Alice?!

I shouted again (oops) and suggested they go to the Dairy to get a snack before the return ride and something to distract Alice so she’d go in the back-pack.

An ice-lolly worked (crazy, yes, given the cold conditions, but it worked!). Alice got in the back-pack and we quickly hoisted her up onto Dan’s back for a quick home-ward bound journey.

Alice on Dan's back homeward bound

Score update: Positive ions (bad) 3; Negative ions (good) 2.

We all felt better now we were heading home, but the head-wind was bitingly cold. Dan, with Alice on his back, and Charlotte riding alongside made a good start. Sophie pedaled gently alongside me. I strode out and jogged part way, feeling a lot happier now.

And then those pesky positive ions tampered with Charlotte’s feelings again!

Score update: Positive ions (bad) 4; Negative ions (good) 2.

She was sat down on the pavement, her bike beside her. Dan was still smiling, ever patient. I told him to cycle on with Sophie and Alice, whilst I helped Charlotte home.

Thankfully Charlotte’s tears were quickly turned to smiles when I gamely sat on her bike and managed to pedal like a clown.

Score update: Positive ions (bad) 4; Negative ions (good) 3.

Together we made good progress, though Charlotte was not entirely happy with the strong, cold head-wind. I was impressed to see Sophie and Dan making good head-way and relieved that Alice wasn’t upset and would soon be home warm, snug and most definitely asleep.

The last leg was up-hill and Charlotte lost her spirit as we turned inland, away from the sea and those good ions from the water.

Score update: Positive ions (bad) 5; Negative ions (good) 3.

She collapsed at the playground and I told her I’d run up the rest of the way to fetch the car down (phew, I sure did a good work-out!).

I ran up the hill and the driveway to meet with Dan’s smiling face. Alice was fast asleep on his back – still in the back-pack – and Sophie had been an amazing trooper getting her bike all the way home and up the hill unaided.

It was a relief to see that some members of my family were more immune to the positive ions than others.

FINAL score update: Positive ions (bad) 5; Negative ions (good) 4.

A few minutes later I was back down at the playground bundling Charlotte and her bike in the car.

She was so relieved to be home. But her nerves and energy levels were clearly jangled by the wind. I made her up a feast of food to take up to her room, where she rested and did some artwork.

I took Alice out of the back-pack and off to bed, where I enjoyed a little restorative nap too.

The rest of the day was without too much drama! A Birthday party for the girls to attend, a big food shop to do, dinner to cook and off to bed.

Here’s hoping for a calmer weather day tomorrow – but if the wild winds blow then I’m heading to the bathroom for cover – apparently one of the best relievers of positive ion madness is running water. So ye shall find me with my head stuck under a warm running shower charging up with negative ions 🙂

Do you have a story to share about how the wind makes you feel? I’d love to hear it.

As for my ‘Dan the Man’ I’m ever so thankful that he’s pretty hardy and resilient to the onslaught of positive ions in Wellington’s wind! Perhaps that’s why he’d happily live here all his life – whereas come this time of year I’m pining for the northern hemisphere, or searching the ‘Open2View’ real estate pages for less windier places to live!

Dan the Man: Resilient to the onslaught of positive ions