January is an ice month. Ice or frost can be found on the windshield, external mirrors, and rear windows most mornings when we start the car on our way to work or school. Take the extra five minutes to scrape each exterior glass surface before you take off down the driveway. After a snow storm, remove all the snow from the hood, roof, trunk and bumpers of your vehicle. I see many cars with their tail lights covered with snow, not realizing other cars cannot see their brake lights as they prepare to stop. Snow flying off a moving car can blind vehicles behind it. Some states now require snow removal from cars by law. Remember, it takes extra time to stop on snowy or icy surfaces. Slow down and use extra caution!
Ice and snow on walkways and driveways creates another slippery situation we need to address. Shovel the walkway clean and use an environmentally friendly ice melt to break up the ice. Products that are safe for plants, concrete, and wood include: Magic Salt, products using magnesium chloride, urea, (some) fertilizers and baking soda, to name a few. For traction, scatter sand, cat litter, sawdust and wood ash on walkways and driveways. Remember to remove your shoes when entering a residence; if you track in these substances, you might get yourself in a heap of trouble with the Mrs.!
Ice and snow on lakes or ponds can be fun when it freezes to a safe thickness. One particularly fun activity on a frozen pond is ice fishing. For those of you unfamiliar with this winter sport, it’s fishing through a hole in the ice, roughly eight inches in diameter. One helpful piece of equipment is a tip-up.A tip-up is a device that sits on top of the hole in the ice. The hooked-and-baited fishing line is lowered into the water and when the fish bites, the flag pops up indicating it’s time to reel in the fish. Safety first! Before venturing out on to the ice, make sure there is at least four inches of ice under the snow. And remember, it’s safer to skate in numbers, so skate on fish ponds with a friend or in a group.
Afternoon or evening skate parties can be pleasurable and great exercise in the cold air. Bring a few tip-ups and you might get lucky and pull up a few perch. Cold water perch make for some great mid-winter dining.
Snow accumulating on the hills makes for great sledding and skiing. Dry snow over a slick surface works best for plastic sleds and flexible fliers. Packed snow under the skis is easy to control and is a safe slide. Pack the kids and skis and head over to Thunder Ridge one evening and watch how their faces light up after their first run down the mountain. What great winter family entertainment that brings out the kid in all of us. Happy sliding!
Pete and the Natives