It’s winter again and here we are in Cleveland, Ohio. There are times when the brilliance we see in warmer seasons seems dampened by thick gray clouds, a sun that’s low on the horizon, trees that are skeletons of muted tones and chilling winds that seem to cut you to bits. It’s easy and comfortable to retreat indoors and to the brightly decorated malls. But I want to point out to you that there is sparkle to be found draped around Cleveland like an Emerald Necklace and it is here for you to enjoy!
If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard me say that it can be challenging to get motivated to go outside in winter, but it’s very much worth the effort. Layer up, make sure your boots and gloves are warm and dry, and hit the trails. I’ll encourage you to find a day when the temperatures are well below 30° and the snow is fresh. Each flake will lie on the ground like a tiny mirror reflecting the sunlight in all directions. It’s beautiful and wonderful. The tiny footsteps of mice and shrews will zig-zag across the forest floor recording the business of the night before. Whether sunny or gray, the winter forest is a wonderful place to visit in winter.
Mouse footprints exiting a hole in the snow
Head to the lake with your binoculars if you have them. While the water is open ducks and gulls collect in Lake Erie to feed on our abundant fish and enjoy the safety of open water. Any of our lakefront reservations are good places to go and get a glimpse of some fascinating bird life. If you’re new to bird watching and don’t know where to look, you may have luck starting with birdwatcher watching. Look for groups of people already stationed along the shore with binoculars or spotting scopes and they may be happy to tell you about what they see, if you’re curious and are careful not to disturb the birds. Or, join a Cleveland Metroparks naturalist for a guided opportunity to see what’s happening at the lakefront. I can’t imagine a better sparkle than our own treasured Lake Erie sprinkled with thousands of birds that don’t normally visit our lives.
Lake Erie on a cold, cold day. Photo by Shelly Polewchak
Go in search of waterfalls. The sparkle of a cold waterfall, especially as the creeks and rivers begin to freeze, seems magical and awe-inspiring. Rivers and creeks run through many of Cleveland Metroparks Reservations. Ask a park employee for a recommendation. I recommend Sulphur Springs in South Chagrin Reservation as a place to start. And, don't forget your camera! If you can, slow your shutter speed to capture a misty affect or speed it up to catch the water droplets in the middle of their dance.
Sulphur Springs in South Chagrin Reservation
Don’t forget to stop by Cleveland Metroparks Nature Centers for some sparkle. Most have added some decorations for winter, bringing inside the greens of pine and celebrating the colors this winter season has to offer. We have programs offered throughout the year as well as great advice on the best ways and places to explore the natural world around us.
Tree Decorated with acorns, foxes, snowflakes and an owl at North Chagrin Nature Center
Share with us how you’ve found and enjoyed the sparkle and wonder that winter has to offer around Cleveland Metroparks. Come out and play today!