by Mark Stash
Winter is here, and to live in Upstate New York, one has to embrace the season or face at least four months of perhaps not being the happiest person in the world.
I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in a rural setting, with a great sledding hill right next to my house. The outdoors and woods were a playground for my siblings and me, and winter brought a different kind of fun. Between toboggons and old-fashioned wooden skis with leather straps, we made numerous runs down that hill. Sometimes I remember my mother observing us through the living room window, and we would try to show off our special jumps and sledding skills for her.
We also had the old fashioned metal-runner sleds, the Flexible Flyer type, where you steer with the wooden crossbar. On occasion, we would take those sleds into the woods where there was an old trail that ran down a huge hill, probably almost a quarter-mile in length. The locals would run through there with their snowmobiles and pack it down really nice. It made a beautiful trail for sledding, almost like an Olympic luge event!
Now that I’m not 10 anymore, I still like to play in the snow. Downhill and cross-country skiing makes for great fun, as well as snowshoeing. Even on the bleakest, most overcast winter days, these activities make me happy.
Cumming Nature Center in the Bristol Hills (page 36) is a wonderful winter playground, where you can rent cross-country skis and also snowshoes. There are open fields there where you can also practice your snowman-making abilities (page 14).
The magic of winter is upon us. Let’s look at all the beauty and activities this season affords us. If we’re physically limited and unable to participate in outdoor fun, the charm of a fresh snowfall and the quiet times of the season can be restorative. The best part is that we can enjoy them in the Finger Lakes!
E-mail Mark with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org