By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist
The day before New Year’s Eve, it was a true delight to awaken and see how much snow had fallen overnight. Since I had spent much of last winter trying to locate the correct kind of boot for my cross-country equipment, finally getting them late in March, it gave me a chance to go out and do one of my favorite things —play in the snow — without having to go to Red River.
Farmer’s Almanac has predicted, rightly or not, that there will be several stretches of wintry weather this year. That means several times when I can glide along, feeling the snow falling around my shoulders, blowing in my face, and listening to the waterfowl calling, circling through the white-flecked sky.
I thought on that Saturday, and have thought since then, how many people around here seem to want to deny winter, and what some of the reasons might be. So this column focuses on winter preparedness, believing that maybe that is key to enjoying rather than enduring the winter outdoors.
First is the importance of layered clothing. Whether one is skiing, hiking or simply walking from place to place, layers of warm clothing are important. It’s easy enough to get overheated when exercising in temperatures around the freezing mark, and it becomes important to be able to remove some of the layers, so you don’t become uncomfortable. I personally have been cross-country skiing in places where it was so strenuous, we were down to T-shirts. Nothing cuts your fun like feeling stifled by too many clothes.
Second, the constant issue of hydrating properly. Snowing or not, we are still in an arid climate, and if one is going to exercise, he or she needs to drink plenty of fluids. The trick in cold weather is that you are not as likely to feel thirsty, but still need to keep sucking away on the Gatorade, water or something akin.
A third factor in enjoying the winter outdoors is vitamins and supplements. This is just a fancy way of saying that, to keep the flu and colds at bay, vitamin C and zinc, especially, are helpful. There’s also a substance called Airborne that has a concoction of herbs and vitamins to strengthen the immune system. Outdoors is much more fun when you don’t have to stop to blow your nose all the time.
For the sake of safety, it is a good practice to let someone know where you are going and a rough timetable. Whether I am heading for the Enchanted Forest in Red River, or simply going to Ned Houk Park, the chance exists that I will slip, fall and be injured. Obviously this is true in the summer, too, but a few hours of being immobilized in 25-degree temperatures is going to take a much worse toll, don’t you think?
Finally, there is the sleeping bag rule. From October through March, there is a sleeping bag in my trunk. Where I come from, every year some hunter’s or skier’s life is saved because he or she ended up stranded, but had a sleeping bag to keep warm until help arrived. This is doubtless true in our area, as well.
There is a lot to celebrate in winter, and I believe we can celebrate it more, if we are prepared to enjoy, rather than endure, the winter outdoors.