If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.Unknown
I have been sitting at my computer for more than an hour wondering how to write about water when the world is on fire. The past year has been hard in so many ways. The schools are closed. Many people have lost their jobs, and those lucky enough to continue working are stretched thin by too many hours, too few cups of coffee with friends, and the strain of teaching and caring for children while juggling video chats, deadlines, and contracts.
Added to this burden, there is sadness. The week before Thanksgiving, a family member died from suicide; two days before Christmas a high school friend died from breast cancer; and yesterday, another friend’s husband died from COVID. The U.S. Capitol was invaded by a violent mob last Wednesday, and the coming week may bring even more violence.
My job is to teach people how to keep water clean, and at times, that feels like a minor concern in the jumble of all that is happening. And yet, it occurs to me also that one reason we work so hard to protect our water and natural resources is to ensure that they are there to douse the flames when the world begins to smolder.
Like many other people, I’ve sought refuge in nature this year. We have hiked, biked, swam, canoed, skied, and snowshoed across the ever-changing landscape of our emotions. This year has been scary, stressful, and sad, but also, it has been beautiful.
On New Year’s Day, I took a couple of hours to go snowshoeing with our dog and the world was covered in sparkling frost like an enchanted fairytale wonderland. We went to one of our favorite places near the St. Croix River and tromped across a glitter-dusted prairie, down to the river, and up through a wood. I left filled with joy and a sense of peace.
This week, instead of advice on how to keep water clean, I’ll leave you with a list of local places you can go to find joy in the snow. Wishing you fresh air, towering pines, a windswept prairie, and a babbling brook. Happy trails to you!
- Afton State Park and William O’Brien State Park (skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking)
- Carpenter Nature Center – MN and WI campuses (snowshoe rentals available Jan. 23 and 24)
- Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park (skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and ice fishing)
- Lake Elmo Park Reserve (skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, fat tire biking, and ice fishing)
- Oakdale Nature Preserve (snowshoeing and winter hiking)
- Pine Point Regional Park and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park (skiing)
- Sunfish Lake Park, Lake Elmo (skiing and fat tire biking)
- Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake (ski and snowshoe rentals available)
- Tamarack Nature Preserve, Woodbury (winter hiking)
- Valley View Park, Oak Park Heights (winter hiking, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking)
- Wild River State Park, MN (ski and snowshoe rentals available)
- Willow River and Kinnicinick River State Parks, WI (snowshoe rentals available)
- Any of the Minnesota State Scientific and Natural Areas (snowshoeing and winter hiking)