Ahhhhh winter time. One incredibly beautiful and enjoyable time of year that anybody can enjoy. If you live in an area in which there is little to no snowfall, then it is difficult to describe to missed opportunities. Winter time in Iowa encompasses a myriad array of sporting, educational, and safety considerations. These will be explored separately.

Me in the snowA snow covered houseA snow covered bush

When one goes outside during a snow storm, it is awe inspiring as to what one can observe if they allow themselves. Imagine the feel of the snowflakes as they gently brush your cheeks and nose. About the only sounds that can be heard is the occasional bird, the sound of the snow, the unbelievable silence, and the unmistakable string of four letter expletives as your neighbor slips while shoveling the stuff. So lets look at some things to do.

EDUCATIONAL- Winter time in the Midwest can be a very educational time of year. At no other time is it possible to view and observe many species of animals. This is not to say that these species are not around at other times of the year, but rather in winter, they are more visible. For example, how often are you able to truly observe the majestic bald eagle soaring through the skies. Look especially around waterways such as rivers, to truly see these fantastic raptors. One can gain a deeper understanding of hydrodynamics as it applies to ice and its formation. Ice is but one of three states of matter in which water exists. If one is into sociology, then the observance of the ice fisherman as they sit for hours on the ice lake is sure to engross the sociologist for some time. If one is an artist or photographer, then there are countless opportunities to ply your trade. Granted keeping the oils from freezing is a challenge, but many artists have small chemical warmers within their paint boxes that does the job well. Photographers have a virtual endless variety of ice patters formed on rivers, lakes, streams, and icicles. The patterns formed can be hypnotizing. Another area that can be hypnotizing is looking at the trees after all of the leaves have fallen. Study the intricacy of the limbs and branches. Often you will also see some birds nesting within the snow laden boughs.

SPORTING- Winter in the mid west offers a vast array of sporting opportunities that is available to anybody and everybody. Any of these activities are free to very low cost. In every case these sporting opportunities will encompass everybody from the beginner to expert. Snow skiing is an extremely popular sport that is enjoyed my many across the Midwest. It is an activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Contrary to common belief, there are many hills throughout the Midwest. It is not all flat farmland. Many local and county parks allow families to snow ski at no cost. Of course there are many ski areas that require a paid entry fee, but there ares much more plentiful free areas. Related to snow skiing is snow boarding. In essence it is similar to both skiing and surfing. A flat or slightly curved board is strapped to the feet and the fun begins. One of the most popular winter sports is ice fishing. This is a method of fishing in which a hole is drilled through an ice covered lake or river, a line is dropped through, and the rest is obvious. But there are a few simple safety precautions that must be kept in mind. There are many great articles written about ice fishing safety, so please research well before attempting. The only limits is ones own imagination.

Safety considerations- A few things to also keep in mind when enjoying the mid west winters is simple safety considerations. If these considerations are ignored then some harrowing experiences may soon follow. Probably the most common is driving in snow. Many people each year are seriously injured or killed when they ignore or forget safety. When driving in the snow, it is critical to keep your speed down. Simple physics apply. The first law of physics in this case is inertia. That i on an icy surface an object in motion tends to stay in motion, even with the brakes on. It is very easy to loose control on a snow covered road. NEVER slam your brakes, this will cause you to slide and possibly spin across the road into oncoming traffic. when you need to brake, gently pump your brakes, this will slow you down as well as keep your brakes from freezing. It is imperative to understand that brakes can and do freeze. By pumping, this keeps the brakes warm and relatively ice free. When turning, try to avoid using your brakes, as this can cause one to spin. It is also of vital importance to have a winter kit in your vehicle, in the case you do go off the road and are buried in the snow. This may include a cell phone, portable CB radio, a couple changes of clothes, winter grade sleeping bag, small tent, propane heater/stove, can foods such as soup, candle, extra gloves, flares, a first aid kit, and so forth. Contact the state police or DOT for information and advice. The Dept of Homeland Security also have great advice as to winter survival gear.

In summation, the mid west offers a large array of activities for one to enjoy. the possibilities are as endless and the amount of snowflakes on the ground. Although these activities are a great way to enjoy yourself or with your family, please be sure to be smart and stay safe.