It’s time to enjoy the good old wintertime

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 4, 2005

By Dick Herfindahl, Outdoors writer

As we venture into the holiday season a blanket of the white stuff always seems to put me in the holiday spirit. I think it must be the kid in me that still gets that special feeling when looking out the window on moonlit night and seeing a blanket of the white stuff covering the yard.

There is always a chance of getting too much of a good thing but just a thin blanket of snow until after Christmas will do just fine.

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The winter activities we have available to us are pretty much unlimited. Sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, snows shoeing, cross-country skiing and of course ice fishing are outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

I have to admit that I think my days as a toboggan rider are limited. It seems like the bottom comes quicker than it used to and the top seems so much farther away.

When the boys were small we would go down the hill by Academy Park and as we stopped at the bottom I would hear,

“Dad, can you bring the sled? I’m pretty tired.” For a while I figured that was my job until something clicked and the old light bulb went on. That’s when I figured out that if their young legs could get them up the hill in plenty of time to have to wait for their old dad then it was time to share the load.

When we were growing up we were pretty much on our own when it came time for playing

outdoors. There were those times when my Dad would go sledding with us or even ice skating.

That never quite happened as often as I would have liked. I think it was his way of retaining his youth and remembering what it was like to be a kid, although I knew that he had never forgotten that part. It was always big stuff for a kid to have Dad show us how he did it when he was young.

Dad would often talk of the double runner skates they used to have as kids and of the times when he lived on the farm by Emmons and he and my uncles would skate the creek to town on a wintry Saturday afternoon.

Us kids would walk miles pulling our sleds looking for the ultimate “thrill hill”. I guess we had two favorite ones but they were quite a distance from home. The closest one was across the slough where there are mostly houses now. It was a short but steep hill that would get you from zero to whatever in a blink of an eye. It may have been a steep climb back up the hill but it didn&8217;t take that long. There were however, a few hazards that we would encounter from time to time, small trees, bushes and an occasional log that had masterfully disguised itself as a snowbank.

The second hill was on the old farm place where the high school now sits. This was a long hill suited for a toboggan and if you could avoid the trees it was quite a rush and you could reach a pretty good clip and go a long ways. The kid in the back was in charge of stopping the toboggan and this was accomplished by simply rolling off, hanging on and dragging your body to slow the sled down. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this technique but it was effective as long as you could get somebody to be the brakes. If the snow was deep you’d only end up with snow in your boots and up your coat sleeves, but if there was only a thin layer this could involve small sticks, leaves and frozen cow chips.

The going down was always the fun part but getting the sled and you back up the hill was the not so fun part.

However you looked at it, we had a lot of fun and it was something we continued to do all the way through high school. In a way I guess we never wanted to totally grow up.

This would happen soon enough.

I have always thought there was something special about being outside on a winter night with full moon lighting up the countryside. As we get older we may not be as active as we used to be but we can still take the time to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors whether it is winter or summer.

Going for a drive in the country on a sunny afternoon taking in the beauty of the snow-covered countryside can be an exhilarating experience. This may be where the old term

&8220;Sunday driver&8221; comes in.

I know that a lot of us are geared up for the ice-fishing season and it will be going full tilt no time.

Just remember to make sure the ice is safe before venturing out &045; you don’t want to become a statistic.

Until next time &8220;play safe keep off the thin ice and above all &045; Enjoy the outdoors.&8221;

Remember to keep showing your support for the troops that are serving our country so that we may enjoy these many freedoms that we have.