Laughing in the Face of Winter (2020)

The kids had the day off from school yesterday. It was a very cold, wintry day (it seems that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is pretty reliably snowy and frozen). So we decided to revive a tradition that’s now three years in the running: Laughing in the Face of the Winter.

The concept is to pretend as if it’s a lovely summer day. To spite the snow and ice. In 2018, we hiked to Deer Lick Cave in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, strolled the beaches of Lake Erie, and got ice cream cones from Mitchell’s in Ohio City. In 2019, we hiked to Blue Hen Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and got blizzards from Dairy Queen.

This year, we started by getting in the car, putting on some sunglasses, and jamming to some summer playlists I have saved on my smartphone (I’m proud to say that the children have bought so heavily into this concept that Elliot came up with this musical innovation for LITFOW 2020).

We drove to a nature preserve called Chapin Forest, in Lake County, and we hiked through about a foot of fresh snow to have a picnic on the top of Gildersleeve Mountain.

At our picnic site, we laid out our picnic blanket, hung up some hammocks, and just relaxed for awhile. It was a genuinely lovely to be in the forest. Everything sparkled. The hiking — and some Minty Morocco tea — kept us plenty warm. We only snacked on some cheese and crackers, but we still called it a picnic. Because that’s what you do when you’re laughing in the face of winter.

We were planning to drive further north after our time on Gildersleeve Mountain — to play frisbee on the beaches of Lake Erie. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we enjoyed our picnic so much that we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to include the extra drive time. So after hiking and picnicking, we drove south (back towards Kent) instead.

We got ice cream at our favorite summer stop: Handel’s, in Stow. And then we went to “The Red Park” (not its proper name) just a bit up the road.

We played on the playground, tossed around a frisbee and a football for awhile, and then we were ready to go home for the evening. I like the notion that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. But even with all our excellent winter gear layered on and all the fun we were having together, it was very nice to get home, strip off the soggy winter stuff, and relax by the fire in our climate-controlled house.

Laughing in the face of winter is fun. But so is resting until next year.

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