1.26.2018

Embracing Winter

For a recent Post-Bulletin column, I reached out to the teams at Tyrol Ski and Sports in Rochester as well as the Hormel Nature Center in Austin. They all shared so many great insights about winter and how/why to appreciate it. They expressed reflections on favorite winter activities AND advice for how to deal with the cold. I've collected them all here in one place as a "Winter Appreciators Archive."

Chuck from Tyrol shared that his favorite winter activities include skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing and running outside if it's above 10 degrees. He advised, "Layer with smartwool next-to-skin, merino wool socks and a 3 in 1 jacket (a jacket with a windproof/waterproof shell and a removable insulated liner). Also, use insulated boots that are multi-functional."

Tanya from Tyrol mentioned that her most beloved winter activities include snowshoeing, hiking, going out with my dogs. As for her best winter advice, she shared, "Having a good base layer is important. I love my smartwool base layers and socks.I just make sure I have plenty of nice layers to throw on depending on the temp. Once you get out and start moving you will warm up."

Kristin Welch is mentioned in the actual column; she had some fantastic responses to my questions. She shared about her favorite winter sports, "I love downhill skiing because it's fun, you're outside, and mostly for its social component. There's nothing like spending the day on the slopes with friends or family. Everyone can ski (or snowboard!) at their own pace and ability on the way down. And then chat and share their experience riding back up together on the chairlift. For the colder days my "go to" items are mittens, smartwool ski socks, warm base layers, helmet, neck gaiter or buff for my face, and goggles. My other favorite winter sport is cross country skiing, for reasons different than downhill skiing. I love that it's a full body exercise, the beauty of the trails and the quietness. It can put you in a "zone", much like other endurance sports such as running. For the extreme cold temps snug fitting base layers are a must, and then a light midlayer if necessary. Also key is a wind resistant jacket and pants that have a breathable fabric in the back. That prevents you from overheating, sweating and then getting chilled. Once again light mittens, merino wool socks, a buff and a pair of shields for the face and eyes."

She added, "You don't have to do anything "extreme" to enjoy winter. With the right clothing, footwear and accessories (to keep hands and toes warm), winter can be enjoyed by just going out for a walk. It has such a unique beauty as compared to the other seasons. And when experienced thru all of your senses it reminds you that you're alive!"

Another awesome nugget of Kristin's wisdom, "My last words of advice to those who want to try a new winter sport like skiing, is to pick a relatively nice day. You may not be generating as much body heat the first few times you go out cross country skiing. As you get better, you're able to maintain a continuous motion, therefore staying warmer. A beginner downhill skier may spend more time getting familiar with the equipment and learning to get on and off the chairlift. If you go out on a little warmer day you'll have a more positive experience and want to go back. But going inside for hot chocolate breaks is good too. It's all a part of the sport!"

The team at Hormel Nature Center gave great advice, too! Naturalist Maria Anderson reflected on her favorite activities, "Cross country skiing has become my favorite winter activity since I’ve been working at the Nature Center. I’d had very little experience with it before that, but I had to get comfortable on skis really quickly in order to teach groups of kids! I learned to love it and bought my own skis after my first winter! I learned the 10 miles of trails here like the back of my hand, since I could cover more ground on skis, and I feel just as comfortable skiing after dark as I do in the daylight. I really enjoy working up speed on skis and then taking it easy and gliding. It’s excellent exercise—when I can ski, I’m in better shape during the winter than the summer! (I have been pushing myself to ride my bike through the winter this year too, especially since we haven’t had the snow to ski. I got studded tires and special gear for safety. But biking on snowy streets isn’t quite as fun as skiing.)

Her advice for how to deal with the cold, " If you live in Minnesota, winter is reality. Hating it doesn’t help us get through it. And I get it—I didn’t like winter until I learned to ski. Having a good (and good-for-you) reason to get out in the brisk fresh air wakes you up and makes you feel alive! You warm up quickly with just a little activity (I get sweaty even in light layers when I ski or ride my bike!), so just a walk in the fresh air will make you feel warmer than turning up the heat indoors, and you’ll come in feeling refreshed! And when you’re getting that fresh air and exercise, it’s easier to eat and sleep better, and you’ll feel healthier and happier overall!"

For ideas specific to the Nature Center in Austin, Anderson added...Here are some other ideas for making the most of the winter season at the Nature Center, even if we don’t have enough snow to ski or snowshoe:
  • Gear up right and take a winter walk.
  • Warm up by the fireplace.
  • Browse our library in the Gordon Lonning Resource Room and learn something new about nature.
  • Check out our two fox snakes with a hands-on experience at 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
  • Test your knowledge of the exhibits with new building scavenger hunts for various ages.
  • Come and meet our birds of prey—Guka, Sha, and Wiyaka.
Will Bjorndal, the intern naturalist had all kinds of winter wisdom! He said, "My two favorite winter activities both involve strapping things to my feet and sliding around. That is, cross-country skiing and ice skating. Here at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center we have about 10 miles of groomed trails for cross country skiing (weather permitting). It’s a fabulous place both beginners and advanced skiers alike. We rent skis if you don’t have your own. On Thursdays we offer free rentals and we’re open an extra hour, until 6pm. It’s been a bummer of a winter so far in regards to snowfall, so we haven’t been able to rent skis yet this season. But the moment we get enough snow, we’ll start renting skis. Give us a buzz at (507) 437-7519 to find out if we’re renting. We also post regular trail reports on our profile on skinnyski.com. I’m also a big fan of ice skating. I grew up skating up and down dobbins creek behind my house. We’re also lucky to have a number of regularly maintained outdoor ice rinks here in Austin."

As for advice about how to embrace winter, Bjorndal said, "In my opinion, the best way to learn to love the cold Minnesotan winter is to enjoy winter-specific activities that get your body moving. Even in single digit weather, one can warm up pretty quickly out on a brisk ski. You don’t have to ski to warm up either, even the walk up a steep sledding hill and lessen the cold. One also mustn’t forget to dress in layers – a lot of them. Perhaps my true favorite part of winter is donning my ‘space suit’ of clothing for subzero weather: wool cap, balaclava, ski goggles, neck gater, sweater, heavy winter coat, long johns, insulated jeans, snow pants, wool socks, and snow boots. Layers can always be shed they end up being too warm. With appropriate winterwear and a set of outdoor activities, you might catch yourself hoping for freezing temps and snowstorms. That’s when you’ll know that you’re a true MinneSNOWtan. Still not convinced of the pluses of frigid weather and heaps of snow? Just remember that hot chocolate and coffee objectively taste five times better if you can’t feel your toes."

Wisdom came in from friends via Facebook, too. I posted last week, "If your favorite season is winter, would you please leave a comment below and/or message me? I am doing a little research and need your assistance!" I was overwhelmed and inspired by all the great thoughts folks shared! A few people sent messages, too, with similarly inspiring sentiments.

Here are some of them...


Comments
Kendra  I’m not sure if it’s my favorite, but I really miss it. Now that I live in an area where it never snows, and rarely sees temps below 50 degrees, I crave those white flakes and cooler weather. In fact, we’re leaving for a weekend in the mountains in about two hours. ☃️
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Doug  Hibernation.
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Tracy  You know it!!
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Adam Definitely the best season. Too cold for seasonal allergies. No lawn mowing. Shoveling is a great upper body work out
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Deb I like winter because it’s my layoff time!! 😁😁
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Loris Not really, that is why I am on Texas.
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Mary Kay Winter means it's one day closer to Spring!
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Rashmi  I like winter
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Kathy  I like the cold crisp clear air days. Especially with a hot chocolate!
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Elizabeth Not necessarily my favorite but there are aspects of winter that I really appreciate. 1) Hunkering down by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, all of it guilt free because it's too dark and cold to be outside anyway. 2) The amazing and gloriou...See More
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Krystal yes miss the snow days of iowa!
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Beverly Not my fav, but it has its benefits. More time for quilting. I love the sunny days when I have time to sit in the sunshine by the window, read a good book and drink Chai.
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John Weiss i did a column on dressing for winter and why it’s great to be out in cold. You can find it on the web or send me your email weiss@postbulletin.com and I’ll send it to you. John
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Valerie I’m trying very hard to make the time I’m in my favorite time and then tick off all the reasons it’s my favorite time in my head. So today winter is my favorite season! Seeing my breath in the crisp cold air, sun glistening on beautiful white snow, ice to glide
on and precious memories to recall. Yep! Today winter is my favorite season.
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Lara Oh yes. The crisp, cold air; wearing sweaters and thick socks; eating hot foods. Winter makes me feel alive.
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Katie In November and December it's my favorite season. January it's usually tolerable. By February I'm into survival mode! But I'm the same with summer. I like the change. I like bringing out sweaters, cozy socks, boots, and blankets. I like the crisp air. ...See More
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Kevin I'd be happy to help you out since I'm one of those winter-loving oddballs.
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Karolyn Warmth from the wood burner, hot soup, hot chai tea, reading a book.
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Tara  Im not a winter lover but if I had to think of things I love about winter it would be making chili and soups but mostly watching my kids play in the snow building snowmen, snow forts, and having snowball fights with each other and sledding. I love seeing the big smiles on their faces as they are making memories to last a lifetime!
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Rosei  All of the seasons are my favorite but I LOVE winter
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Erin  I"m not sure it is my favorite, but I love the cool fresh air, the way the snow blankets the evergreen trees, watching my kids dig tunnels and go sledding, and cross country skiing.
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Sandy Yes, Winter is my favorite season, but not for what folks may think. It's the time of the year when I get more organized at cleaning out old magazines, organize the sewing studio, make new aprons & pillows for spring/summer to go to my various shops......See More
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Anne  I love winter - sunrises and sunsets seem to be even more gorgeous when it's cold. I love outdoor activities like skiing and winter hikes. Coming in to a warm fire, good smelling candles and snuggly blanket is a good reward for braving the cold!
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Jodi  Though I complained the other night about the extreme temps, I can't help but love winter. I was born in January just after an epic Midwestern snowstorm so I feel a certain kindred spirit with winter. There's something so exquisitely beautiful about sn...See More
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Becky Winter- I can always put more clothes on. Summer- can't always take more off! Nuff said
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Ingrid I love Winter, Spring and Fall....❄️❄️❄️
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Beth  I find beauty in: The silence during a heavy snow, when all you can hear is snowflakes shusshing. The icy blue color of the snowbanks at dusk. The silhouette of bare branches against the deep blue winter sky. Pollen count: 0.
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Cindy At one time, I may have said winter was my favorite season. My love of the season seems to wear thin as I age. I do love the excitement of the first snowfall of the season...especially when in the company of children under 8. Winter brings the excit...See More
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Ann I love winter. When dressed properly, it is more enjoyable than the hot, humid oppressive July/August summer. I am a runner and run outside all year round. I prefer to run in January over July any day. It is actually more comfortable. There is not...See More
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Roxie I like winter and snow but I hate ice
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Nikki  Do you just want local people or international is ok too? I work with a German right now that doesn't have facebook but love winter and I can ask her your questions for you.
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Jerry The two things I like about winter us the lack of bugs and the lack of the neighbors mowing .
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Angela The good parts about winter-
Leaving it for a vacation and the end of winter! ❄️
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Craig  No mosquitos, snow covers the resting earth and my body welcomes cool, not heat. Amen.
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Craig  Oh, yes, and hot chocolate and Bailey's.
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Kelli Today it could be! We should have brought you tubing with us!!
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AmbeI can't say it's my favorite, but I love winter for the perspective it provides. You must eat bitter to taste sweet 
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A huge thanks to all who shared their insights on winter! The full column is in the upcoming weekend edition of the Rochester Post-Bulletin.






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