of Washington writes: So we finally have winter in spades. What are we supposed to do with it? Do people here know how to do winter or does everyone just sit inside and whimper until April 1?
replies: This is your lucky month, Christine. Believe it or not, it's "Learn a Snow Sport Month," as proclaimed by whoever it is that makes up holidays and forces us to buy greeting cards.
Governors across this great, frozen land of ours have jumped aboard the Hallmark train with proclamations urging us to pry ourselves away from the flat screens and take a walk or ski or snowshoe. I would note that neither the governor of Maryland nor the governor of Virginia stepped into this one. If you go to the Web site wintertrails.org, and click on Maryland, you'll see the events calendar (last updated June 26, 2009) lists a learn-to-ski opportunity at Wisp Resort Nordic Center in Garrett County. The event, unfortunately, is today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program is TBD, which when I went to college meant To Be Decided. But fear not, Virginia and our nation's capital offer one fewer opportunity. And all of Pennsylvania's events for the month were Saturday.
Luckily, the Web site has some good tips for getting started in winter recreation. Some other suggestions:
Take a walk. The woods and trails look different without leaves to block your view, and it's cheap. Birding is a good bet for the same reason. Check out the activities on the Maryland Ornithological Society Web site (mdbirds.org).
Visit Wisp, or Liberty or Whitetail resorts just over the line in Pennsylvania and take a ski or snowboard lesson. All three have a Burton Women's Learn to Ride Center for first-time snowboarders. Or just go snow tubing - no experience required.
Don't like to go it alone? Check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a list of organized activities.