We've got winter on the run
February 19, 2021
It might be that early February provided the biggest punch of cold winter we'll receive this season. So the remnants of this winter will be a breeze when it comes to enjoyment without the arctic air. There are myriad ways to alleviate cabin fever in the area while still taking pandemic precautions. Here is a sampling:
There are many trails available in Carlton County for folks who'd like to get outside and tromp around in the snow, including trails at Jay Cooke State Park, along the St. Louis River, Spring Lake Trail on White Pine Drive in Cloquet and several trails at the Forestry Center. Please avoid walking, snowshoeing or riding fat tire bikes on any groomed cross country ski trails.
If you'd rather walk inside, visit the Northwoods Credit Union Hockey Arena in Cloquet, where the path around the upper level is open to walkers. The doors open around 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, and walkers are allowed in until the last scheduled event, usually around 8 p.m. Walkers are not allowed inside during high school and Wilderness hockey games.
"I have tons of walkers here every day," said rink manager Justin Harriman. "All are welcome." Pets are not allowed, with the exception of service animals.
Visit one of the free homegrown libraries boxes or bookshelves around town or your local public library to stock up on some new-to-you reading materials. There are little libraries at Cloquet City Hall, on Brevator Road near the Fond du Lac school, on Chestnut Street near Avenue B plus one just up the hill from Nantiques, at 416 Arch Street. Find both a book barn and a kitchen cabinet on the corner of Selmser Avenue and Sixth Street in Cloquet, and a just-started bookshelf with comics and kids books in the Pine Knot News foyer at 122 Avenue C. (Donations of kids' and adult books are also welcome.) The Cloquet library's winter reading challenge runs through March 6. Find out more at the library.
You can watch our feathered friends from your armchair or kitchen window - especially if there are some well-placed bird feeders outside - or, put on some warm clothes and go in search of bigger birds at places such as the Sax Zim bog, 40 miles northwest of Cloquet. Regular binoculars are great for birding. Always respect posted signs and never trespass on private land. If you do go to the Sax Zim, be aware that the bog boardwalks can be slippery with ice and packed snow. Snowshoes are a great way to get off the boardwalk and deeper into the woods. Find out more at saxzim.org.
GET KIDS TO READ
Children from newborn through age 5 can get free books from the Imagination Library, sponsored locally by the United Way of Carlton County. Kids get a free brand-new book every month in the mail through this reading program created by Dolly Parton. United Way director Ali Bilden Camps said they decided to showcase several of the books by asking local volunteers to read them for the Imagination Library Storytime feature on the United Way website. They have nine featured books on the site so far. "If kids are interested in reading, it's a really cool program," Bilden Camps said. Register for the Imagination Library program and visit Imagination Library Storytime on the "Community Impact" tab of unitedwaycarltoncounty.org.
Snowshoers are welcome in most public lands and public parks, with the exception of the groomed ski trails and where otherwise posted. In Carlton County, consider Jay Cooke State Park, Spring Lake Road trail, the Cloquet Forestry Center and the mountain bike trails at Pine Valley (but not the ski trails). Jay Cooke and some other state parks typically have snowshoes to rent but, due to Covid, the rental programs are not operating this winter. Their trails are open for use. All vehicles parking at a state park must have an annual sticker or a day pass. Or, break your own trails, since snowshoes are made for deeper snow conditions. Snowmobile trails should be avoided for safety reasons. Do not trespass on private land.
Nearly every city in Carlton County has at least one skating rink open this winter, although most have closed their warming houses because of the pandemic. But who needs a warming house? Outdoor ice skating is healthy, free, and a great way to enjoy the great outdoors in winter. Find outdoor rinks in Cloquet at Pinehurst, Athletic and Sunnyside parks, outside the Barn at Pine Valley and in Scanlon at Sather Park. The skating ribbon at Dunlap Island is wonderful too. Wrenshall has a rink near the post office, Carlton by the Four Seasons hockey shelter, Esko at the athletic complex, and Cromwell by City Hall on Highway 73.
Get the growing started ahead of time by planting seeds indoors so they will be ready to go by the time warm weather arrives. In Minnesota, annual flowers and heat-loving vegetables such as tomato, pepper and eggplant are usually started in early spring. Tiny seeds, such as those of alpine strawberry, may need to be started as early as February. Get a book on gardening from your local library or just buy some seeds and get started.
Check out the University of Minnesota Extension's online guide at https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/starting-seeds-indoors or call Bette Vichorek at the Extension office in Cloquet, 218-726-6463, or email [email protected] to ask for links to the recent webinar series on "Gardening from the Ground Up."
There are plenty of places to volunteer in Carlton County. Contact Volunteer Services of Carlton County at 218-879-9238 and consider a range of opportunities, or go straight to the source at local schools, the REACH mentoring program, a local senior care facility, or one of the many fraternal and charitable organizations here.
TAKE IN A SHOW
County Seat Theater is offering all of its spring season plays in person (pandemic permitting) and online. The one-act play "Do Not Go Gentle" continues this weekend, Feb. 18-21, along with an art show at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet. Live-performance tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students. On-demand tickets are $9.99 for a single view and $14.99 for a household view, and are offered for Feb. 18-21 only, with flexible viewing times.
BACK TO SCHOOL
According to state law, a senior citizen who is a legal resident of Minnesota is entitled to attend courses offered for credit, audit any courses offered for credit, or enroll in any noncredit courses in any state-supported institution of higher education in Minnesota when space is available after all tuition-paying students have been accommodated. You do have to pay for materials, personal property, or service charges for the course. There are no administrative fee charges to a senior citizen auditing a course.
Or, find out what classes are offered through your local Community Education office.