When we actually have a winter, instead of getting cabin fever, I like to get outside and embrace the weather. After all, many people live in more northern climates and they seem to do just fine. In fact, I think that is the answer. If you are used to cold weather and lots of snow, you learn how to enjoy it. That certainly was the case on my winter travels this year to Colorado and Maine.
I spent two weeks in Boulder in December. The first week was brown and dry and the second week was adorned with a foot of snow. We hit the mountains early and had a great day of downhill skiing. Even with the single digit temperatures, we were comfortable in the dry air, the right clothing, and all the activity. We also hit Estes Park where we dropped two of our group off at Bear Lake. While they cross country skied for several hours, we explored the passes and were thrilled by the views of mountain top snow showers.
One of the highlights though was not in the mountains. It was a scavenger hunt put together by our friends and Boulder residents, Brad and Angie Silsby. We split up into two teams: men and women. Then we read the clues, googled maps and landmarks on I-phones, and took off at a gallop around town and the University. Three hours later we returned only moments ahead of schedule and counted points. The winning team, the men, were only ahead by a single point over all that time. We also ran much of the way, through the snowy and slushy streets. The snow made the hunt more challenging and a lot more fun.
We also spent time with the family in Portland Maine. Mainers are so use to the snow that they have a number of local parks where the trails are groomed for cross country skiing – both classic and skating styles. We went out on two brisk days with bright blue skies and several feet of snow. It was beautiful and lots of people were out with skis, snowshoes, families, and dogs. It is just what you do in the winter. Yes I try to do this in Maryland, but usually the conditions are not as good.
We also passed the Kennebec River where we saw dozens of smelt shacks erected right out on the ice. We were regaled about how much fun it is to go out on the river in one of these shacks, complete with heaters, and fish for smelt through holes in the ice. We did not catch any, but procured a few which we, following directions, gutted, beheaded, floured, and fried. They are indeed a tasty white fish, so I get it. Spending time partying in a fish shack could be a lot of fun.
So I came away from these trips realizing that winter is what you make it. Yes it is harder to enjoy if you get sleet and black ice as we do in Maryland. But we have had plenty of days in Maryland where it has been either dry or the ground is covered with snow, not ice. If you like just walking, we are fortunate that the trails near our home are cleared quickly – often even before the roads. I have found if you dress up warmly, you can get out almost every day of the year. And it is well worth it since things around our lake are different each and every day. Even in winter, different ducks, mammals, and people come and go and the ice is constantly changing.
So I encourage you not to hibernate but to get outside and enjoy the change of the seasons. There are exciting things to discover on every day of the year.