“Snow day!” When put together, these two words create instant delight. It’s a moment in time for creating memories and bringing joy for young and old alike. When I was a kid growing up in South Carolina, a snow day was a rare phenomenon. In fact, I can count on my gloved hand how many of those I was lucky enough to have as a child. Here in the Hudson Valley, it’s a different story. And there’s snowplace I’d rather be!
I’ve seen all kind of crazy prognostications that this winter, much like the last, is going to be filled with snow. (My go-to meteorologist, the woolly bear caterpillar and its 13 segments of black and reddish-brown, has forecast a loooong one.) So, let’s plan ahead with 10 fun ideas of things we can do to survive (and thrive!) this winter.
Take full advantage of the season and the recreational opportunities in the Catskills. There are plenty of adventures on them there mountains! Whether you're a pro or a beginner, get playful and athletic and feel the speed. Or meet me après ski for a cocktail by the fire in the lodge.
#2. Ice Skating
Gliding atop the ice is a thrill whether outdoors on a frozen pond or at a groomed rink. Wobbly? The experts say balancing is all about keeping your head steady, fixing your eyes on a point, and trusting your body to get the balance right. My advice? Take a lesson. Last year, Mohonk Mountain House hosted Olympic champions for demonstrations and classes. I gave one as a gift and have been thanked ever since.
Sledding or tubing is the basis of three Olympic sports: luge, skeleton, and bobsledding, all of which are based on the sled concepts. I discovered back in South Carolina that you don’t have to have a fancy device to get down the hill. Trashcan lids, flattened cardboard boxes, and beach tubes and floats will work just fine. Make your own Olympic competition, and race to the finish line.
“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
#4. Ice Bubbles
When the temperature drops below 32 degrees (the colder the better for this), make a concoction of 3 cups water, 1 cup dish soap, and 1/2 cup white corn syrup (that creates a sugar polymer to make a stronger bubble). Take your wand and blow bubbles up into the air so they’ll freeze before hitting the ground. The results are magical crystalline patterns and shapes that will take your breath away.
#5. Snow Angels
Call it a child’s game, but making snow angels is downright fun whether you’re eight or eighty. Lie down in fresh snow and flap your arms up and down and legs side to side to form a stylized angel. If you’re super ambitious, go for breaking the Guinness World Record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place. Current record holder: 8,962 snow angels created in Bismarck, North Dakota.
#6. Snow Graffiti
Fill spray bottles with water and 10-20 drops of food coloring depending on how dark you want your colors. (My advice: skip the color yellow.) Give your kids the spray bottles, and let them go create a masterpiece on the white canvas in your backyard. Who knows—you might realize you have a Cold Monet or Jackfrost Pollock!
#7. Winter Photo Contest
There’s nothing like an expedition with a mission. Adventure out into the winter wonderland and let everyone snap some photos. Post each person’s personal favorite on social media and see whose grabs the most “likes.” Treat the winner to a prize (like an extra cup of hot cocoa!)
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
#8. For the Birds
Here’s a charitable craft idea. Make your own birdfeeders by stringing cranberries, popcorn, and cereal onto fishing line or ribbon for a beautiful garland that attracts and helps out your fine-feathered friends. String them around a bush or tree that’s visible from a cozy observation spot inside your house.
#9. Snowball Fight
Divide your family into teams and allow time for each side to amass their stockpile. Then, announce the start, and commence the throwing! I’ll let you decide whether the most splattered team is the winner or the loser. One piece of advice: don't wear jeans. When jeans get wet in freezing temperatures, they ice up and are hard to run in!
Warm up with a roaring party outside! Build a crackling winter bonfire and make s’mores. Sit back and enjoy the beauty of the snowkissed Hudson Valley landscape and dream of the sweetness of spring.
Bruce Littlefield is a best-selling author and TV contributor. His books include Merry Christmas, America! and Moving In (set in the Hudson Valley). His next book, The Sell with Bravo star Fredrik Eklund, will be out in April 2015.