By Marcie Cuff
Wasn’t it just a minute ago that you had your hand on a frosty glass of cucumber-infused mint water? Well, now it’s cold outside. And already you’ve put the kettle on and have liberated last year’s winter cocoon—your colossal wool infinity scarf. There is just no way around winter’s merciless brutality. Time slows to a crawl and days tend to lose all meaning. But, these are the exact things that redeem winter, right?
Clearly, a disproportionate number of winter enthusiasts are smallish. I live with two of them, and these mini winter-lovers are somehow able to “appreciate” winter for “what it is”—sipping hot cocoa from oversized mugs while buried under blanket mountains, and then venturing outside to be amazed by the ethereal beauty of all frozen things.
Winter is a time for legwarmers and Snuggies, crackling fires, and dogs in weird sweaters. It’s a time to eat hibernation food—pumpkin chowder, buttermilk biscuits, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, and pie. And pie. And more pie. And winter is a time for outdoor exploration—searching for animal tracks, skipping stones on frozen ponds, hunting for bird and squirrel nests, and having winter picnics.
For the next few months, view winter through the eyes of a child. Find an outdoor wintery activity that you really enjoy, and do a lot of it. Westchester is home to thousands of trails designed for year-round exploration—throughout winter. Hiking, cross-country skiing, bird watching—all are perfect ways to get you out and about.
And so, tuck away those sour outdoor winter memories of frozen slush seeping into your slouchy socks, and put on your winter woolies. Get yourself outside in the midst of that wintry mix. There really is just nothing more beautiful than a blustery snowy day. To the right is a checklist of wild nearby places for you to explore. All of the parks listed have well-marked trails for winter hikes, and almost all allow cross country skiing—just visit the Westchester Parks website for additional information. Commit to checking off a few spots each week throughout the winter months. Have fun out there!
Just Outside Your Door:
Peter Oley Trailways, Irvington
Rockefeller State Park, Sleepy Hollow
Westchester RiverWalk, on Hudson River
10 to 15 Minutes Away:
Butler Sanctuary, Mount Kisco
Cranberry Lake Preserve, White Plains
George’s Island Park, Monroe
Hardscrabble Wilderness Area, Briarcliff Manor
Kitchawan Preserve, Ossining
Lenoir Preserve, Yonkers
Marshlands Conservancy, Rye
Merestead, Mount Kisco
Teatown Lake Reservation, Yorktown
20 to 25 Minutes Away:
Angle Fly Preserve, Katonah
Blue Mountain Reservation, Peekskill
Brinton Brook Sanctuary, Croton-on-Hudson
Bronx River Pathway, Valhalla
Croton Point Park, Croton
Hilltop Hanover Farm Hiking Trails, Yorktown Heights
Marshlands Conservancy, Rye
Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Bedford
Muscoot Farm Hiking Trails, Katonah
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Cross River
Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington and is the author of the book “This Book Was a Tree”(Perigee Books). For more hands-on projects like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.