“Winter is going to be a season of flip-flop conditions with notable polar coaster swings in temperatures!” So saith this year’s Farmer’s Almanac website. It was the “polar coaster” bit that got my attention.
Break out the sleds, saucers, snowshoes, skis ... and Yak Traxx (or some such gripping devices) on the bottoms of winter boots would be in order, too. And bundle up for that polar weather!
Now, there are a lot of ice-skating fans among us. Given this, they know where to go to get their skate on. But in case you don’t or are looking for somewhere new, I’ve got suggestions! First off, make sure the ice is safe to dance and spin and glide on. In speaking with Christine Selman at Boothbay Region Land Trust, the Facebook group Maine and NH Skating and Ice Report was named a good resource. It is a private group, but all you have to do is ask to join! I got in … just saying ...
Ice skating: Tibbett’s Pond (thank you Peter Panagore for the fun mini-video the other day) in East Boothbay; Boothbay Harbor: Appalachee Pond/east side of Harbor (no parking at the pond, need to park at Lobster Cove Road and walk to the pond); Langaanes Pond at BRLT’s Oak Point Farm; Pat’s Pond, Little and Big Bennett ponds; and West Harbor Pond.
Off peninsula: Pemaquid Lake (first cove on the right from the boat ramp); Hosmer Pond at Camden Snowbowl; and Goddard’s Pond in Bath. For indoor skating, there’s Watson Arena on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick; Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport; and Howard Sports Dome in Topsham; Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell.
Tubing: Seacoast Fun Park in Windham, Sugarloaf, Black Mountain of Rumford.
Snowshoeing: BRLT properties: Oak Point Farm, Zak Preserve, Cross River Preserve, Ocean Point, Singing Meadow/Edgecomb (also great for cross country skiing), Penny Lake, Gregory Preserve, Lobster Cove Meadow; Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson.
Sledding … back when my girls were young – late 80s to mid 90s, the golf course was the place to sled. But that all changed a good decade or so ago. After double checking, sledding at Boothbay Region Elementary School – after school and weekends only – is still cool. Also, BRLT’s Oak Hill Farm has a fine hill near the farmhouse for sledding.
Oh! And Christine, you remember Christine, over to BRLT? She says the Land Trust is trying to coordinate some pop-up skating/sledding events when conditions and schedules permit. So, stay tuned on that score.
Land Trust preserves that are plowed in winter are: Oak Point Farm, Singing Meadows, Ocean Point Preserve, Penny Lake, Gregory Trail, Zak Preserve, and Lobster Cove Meadow. Ovens’ Mouth is as well, but this is best used for walking-hiking rather than for some of the winter sports listed above!
Back at the homesteads, nothing beats building a snowman – or whole gosh darn family to greet passersby; rolling and stashing snowballs is a great idea for those impromptu snowball fights or snow tag. Fort building is quicker than igloo construction – or is it?
If you live near a wooded area, take a walk. Being in nature during the winter is totally Zen. And here’s a fun family idea before you set out: Start drawing a map, pack some pencils, a cell phone, water and extra gloves in a backpack, and then add to the map as you go along. You’re sure to be inserting animal tracks, or where a crow or raven flew overhead, draw in fallen trees – anything you wish. My granddaughter and I have done this and it is a blast.
Photo opp: Pretend you’re in a snow globe. Go to different places in your yard and strike a pose near your house, or a fence. Imagine being shaken to make the snow fall.
Find a pristine section of newly fallen snow in your yard and make snow ice cream (gathering the snow is a family effort!). You need eight to 12 cups of fresh, white, new snow; a 10-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk; and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix together in a large bowl – quickly, and then place in a container that can go in the freezer – if there’s any left over, or if you want to freeze it first.
And, later, after you’re back inside and dry, make some hot chocolate, pop some corn and slide a DVD movie in – all winter-themed, of course! How about these suggestions: Anything Harry Potter; “Happy Feet I and II” (nothing like penguins to make you smile); “Snow Day,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe;” “Edward Scissorhands” “Ice Age,” “Frozen I and II,” “Balto,” “Anastasia” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”
Curl up under the blankets, sit in front of the fireplace, woodstove, and yes, even that electric fireplace, too … and enjoy one another’s company – and the warmth will feel pretty darn good, too!