Writer’s Block: A winter wonderland of play

The season’s winter wonderland is upon us. OK, so we’ve only got a thin blanket of snow on the ground so far, but you know more is coming soon. And with it, adventure and activity that only the winter season can provide.

Sue Austreng
Sue Austreng

Anticipating a snowy winter takes me back to winters of my childhood, retreating to the Canadian border at Christmas time and then – wrapped in woolen clothing and merrily bouncing along the bumpy trail – sledding three miles across the frozen lake to grandma’s house. Winter at grandma’s meant exploration in the frozen wild and adventure and thrill with the discovery of icy treasure buried in the cold, dark forest. Cold winds fueled adrenaline pumping in hearts eager for more.

As kids growing up in Coon Rapids, my brothers and I experienced winter adventures of a “city” sort, too. Shortly after snowfall – and after the city road crew rumbled past plowing the roads – we’d tunnel into mounds of snow packed up along the boulevards. We’d dig and dig and tunnel and burrow until – voila! – we had ourselves a snow cave.

We’d also spend hours building snowmen and snow forts and snow chairs and snow cars. We’d even pile mounds of snow up against the back yard fence so we could do some improvised sledding. Of course, there were countless battles of the snow ball sort, too. Sneak attacks and strategies of search and destroy and all-out ambush as we took on the neighbor kids for snowball fight bragging rights.

And if ice skating or a pick-up game of hockey was the go-to winter play of the day, all we had to do was walk across the block to where firemen had flooded the vacant lot and created a makeshift ice rink.

Now decades have passed, routines have changed and the cityscape has evolved. But, you know there’s all kinds of winter fun to be had, still… right here in dear old Anoka County.

If ice skating is your heart’s desire, most of the cities’ parks have groomed and secure skating rinks, complete with warming houses and vending machines. Not to mention indoor ice arenas like those in Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids, too.

Now if sledding’s your gig, a couple of the parks also have giant sledding hills: Thorpe Park, located in Coon Rapids where Crooked Lake Boulevard approaches Highway 10; Wintercrest Park, located on Woodcrest Drive right behind HOM Furniture and North Country Ford; and George Enloe Park, located at Weaver Boulevard and McKinley Street in Anoka, just west of the Anoka County Fairgrounds – just to name a few.

If cross country skiing or snow shoeing is your winter activity of choice, the Coon Rapids Dam, Bunker Hills and Rum River Central regional parks all offer many kilometers of groomed trails. Elm Creek Park is another nearby destination for cross country skiing or snow shoeing.

Winter equipment, like snow shoes and cross country skis, can be rented at Chomonix Golf Course, Bunker Hills Campground Visitor Center and at the Coon Rapids Dam Visitor Center.

And speaking of Coon Rapids – now that’s a city that makes the celebration of snow an annual citywide event. Coon Rapids Snowflake Days features a snow sculpture contest, medallion hunts, royalty pageants, dancing, playing, singing and celebrating of all snowy sorts.More details about what’s planned for Snowflake Days 2013 (which takes place in February) will be coming soon.

Snow, snow, it’s a beautiful thing. You can sculpt, you can throw, you can glide, you can go…

So, go! Get out and play in this winter wonderland. The fresh air, the chill, the adventure – it will enliven and invigorate – sure to bring new life to you in this fresh new winter season. And, who knows, it may even work to prevent the dreaded woes of that old miserable malady: cabin fever.

Or you could always just cozy up by the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate and reading a good book or watching a classic winter movie on the DVD player. No matter what, there’s wonder to be found in this delightful winter season. So get out and celebrate!