Looking at the weather forecast a couple of weeks ago, I saw that we were supposed to have the first 80-degree day of the year in the middle of the week. "I'm going to have such spring fever, I might as well be outside!" I said to myself.

So I took the day off — yes, a random Wednesday — so I could play outside. In the morning, I went to the dump and then headed to the Big City (Rockland) to look for a wading pool for the puppy. She has shown a lot of interest in playing in water already, and I thought she'd enjoy it.

After striking out at the discount store in Rockland — lots of larger above-ground pools, but none of the inexpensive kiddie wading variety — I went to that big box store down the road, and found something I thought would suit. Its chief claims to fame — or to my favor, at least — were being quite inexpensive and coming folded up in a box I could carry and fit into my car.

The pool has firm-but-flexible plastic sides, decorated on the outside with sea turtles and other ocean creatures, and a liner on the bottom of a much more flexible plastic. I'm not sure how long it will withstand Rosie's claws, much less those of our larger dog, but figured not much would be lost if it sprang a leak.

After Maureen got up and had something to eat, we went to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It was our first time there in a number of months, and the expansion and work on the new visitors' center have progressed a lot. We were a little unsure at first where to park, but solved the mystery and romped on into the gardens.

The day was sunny, warm and beautiful. We heard frogs croaking their mating song and saw sweet-smelling hyacinths, a few early-blooming tulips and something else we couldn't identify because its sign was too far away to read without binoculars, which we had cleverly left at home. Maureen does better with things like that than I, but even she had trouble making it out. She said it looked something like "New York College," which left us both wondering. I took a picture and figured we'd ask one of the staff before we left.

We wandered around, pausing often to sit on a bench or relax in a chair and enjoy the view. It was lovely to be there in the middle of the week, almost as if we had the gardens to ourselves. They weren't as showy as they will be by the end of May, with a profusion of tulips, followed by rhododendrons and roses, but many things were out and everything looked healthy and new and happy to be here.

When I approached the woman at the desk in the visitors' center on the way out, she wasn't sure what the mystery plant was, either. I zoomed in on the photo, and noticed that the name tag was also in the picture. The letters were fuzzy, but I made out "Skunk Cabbage," which I'm pretty sure corresponded to Maureen's "New York College." Given that it was growing at the edge of a pond, it seemed the mystery had been solved.

We went to supper afterwards, and then had a scenic sunset drive home.

A few days later, we set up the pool, which involved carefully pulling it out of the box and unfolding it, then supporting the sides while we put some water in. After a bit, the water held the sides up. Rosie was very curious about the pool, lifting her head up to peek into it, and trying to climb over the sides. After I helped her get in the first time, she was jumping in and out like nobody's business. She tore around the yard, jumped into the pool, jumped out again, and continued racing around. It was a big time.