Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 6, 2006, Herald Journal

Winter wonderland fun


This winter, our family “hit the hills” at the Lowry Nature Center in Victoria for some free outdoor sledding fun. The hill is steep enough for everyone to have fun on, but not too steep for a toddler to go safely down with an adult (and to travel back up again with kids and sleds and all).

Our 22-month-old, Delaney, enjoyed the sledding fun, along with our two other children, my husband, and myself.

Although the snow is gradually leaving us, the nature center offers a lot of nature activities for all ages, including bird watching (yes, during the winter months, too), snowshoeing, kicksledding, and building snow huts and castles outdoors, as well as many indoor activities.

The center just recently hosted its Polar Bear Picnic, during which participants could snowshoe, kicksled, build a quinzhee, play mini-golf on the ice, enjoy a bonfire, and participate in indoor craft and art activities focusing on nature.

The center offers activities all year round. For information on upcoming and future events or volunteer opportunities, call the Lowry Nature Center at (763) 694-7650. The website is www.threeriversparkdistrict.org

Read some winter books

Take a trip to a local library to read some winter books together. What a great way to spend some time together on a cold winter day, and to bring some books home to enjoy.

We have some great public libraries in our communities; take advantage of their resources.

The city of Waconia has a new public library, full of lots of literature for young and old and lots of children’s books, animal puppets, and great children’s seating to enjoy a book together. There are also great areas for older children and adults to enjoy some reading time, including a cozy fireplace book nook area.

To check out some books and other resources (videos, compact discs, books on tape, etc.) at the Waconia library, you must be a resident of Carver County, or use your library card from your local community’s library. My children and I have Pioneer Land library cards that they accepted.

So, take a trip to the new library; it’s worth the visit. And don’t forget about the great libraries in our local communities, as well.

Visit a book store

Taking a trip to a book store can also be a good adventure. A fun book store to experience is the Wild Rumpus book store in the Linden Hills area of Minneapolis, at 2720 West 43rd Street.

It has received “best book store” awards, and taking a family trip there myself, it certainly deserves the honors bestowed. “Wild rumpus” it is – in a good way, as there are friendly critters scurrying amongst the patrons and books, accepting attention from anyone.

My Delaney followed the chicken around the store, saying, “chicken, chicken, cluck, cluck.” I think both Delaney and the chicken were confused (I think the chicken thought she found another fowl and well, Delaney was just trying to figure out what a chicken was doing among a bunch of books) but nonetheless, they were content with each other’s companionship.

There were also some friendly cats making their home in the book store, as well as some birds (in cages) and a big pet rat beneath a glass floorboard in an ingenious little book niche.

The environment and staff sent the message, “to stay awhile and enjoy a book,” even though it is a book store versus a library.

The combination of a variety of books, friendly staff, a very user-friendly, cozy environment, and friendly pets made it a book store for all to enjoy (as well as to purchase some books from), so if you happen to be in the Minneapolis area (although it’s even worth a trip of its own) visit Wild Rumpus. There’s also an ice cream shop and a Creative Kids store within walking distance.

Here are some good winter “reads” that the staff at the Wild Rumpus book store recommend.

Since the movie that is based on the Curious George books will be out soon, the book by Louise Borden and published by Houghton, “The Journey that Saved Curious George” is even more appealing to read.

In a synopsis of the book, Wild Rumpus staff noted that the book tells the true story of Margaret and H.A. Rey and their great effort to flee from Europe in the middle of World War II. This book describes some of the adventures that Margaret and H.A. Rey go on with the special little monkey originally known as FiFi.

“Winter’s Tale,” described as an original pop-up journey, by Robert Sabuda, Simon & Schuster, is also a highly recommended “experience.” The book store staff described the book as full of “pages within pages of folding out, shimmering with winter’s palate of snow crystals and lavender skies. Waterfalls flow, and waves churn. Deer leap, and fish jump, all startlingly lifelike with the opening of each page.”

Sounds grand! I am going to have to indulge in this book, too.


“Read to your children. Listen to your children. Pray with your children.”

- Anonymous