By Amy Gronli
The summer is gone, the harvest is done, and winter has come! While springs lift our spirits with birdsong and flowers, summers pulsate with wet and wild fun, and autumns invite us to leaf-peep and cheer on the home team, winters gift us with their own magic. True, when wintry winds howl around our houses, we nestle farther under our bed covers and yearn for warmer days. But little can compare to the breathtaking beauty of a snug, cozy town blanketed with a fresh layer of snow. As winter begins, and throughout its long tenure, New London offers its residents and visitors events and opportunities both calm and bright.
The amazing natural world we enjoy in greener days cannot be forgotten in December. In the winter, the hushed tread of snow-shoers and the stealthy whisper of skiers at Sibley State Park and Prairie Woods Environmental
A snowy scene along Glacial Lakes State Trail. (copyright 2018, Amy Gronli)
Learning Center (PWELC) drift upwards from the well-marked terrain that allows these winter wonderlands to be explored. When snow or ice frosts each bare twig and yellowed blade of grass along the Glacial Lakes State Trail, travelers upon it can marvel at the tenacity of the natural world as it clings to life through the bitter cold. And while the calm of a quiet walk can offer time for contemplation, snowmobilers make the most of a bright afternoon – or the brightness of their headlights – to zoom down the trail at exhilarating speeds. Fat-tire biking at PWELC also offers a more adventurous way to enjoy the brisk winter air and take in the snowscape. Once the ice is thick enough, the areas’ frozen lakes are quickly transformed into nomadic villages of trucks, dark-houses, and Ice Castles. Men and women patiently wait with rod or spear in hand, attentive to the water below, not even hearing the underwater thunder of shifting ice as they wait for their prey to appear.
When in December the streetlights become decorated with glowing, larger than life snowflakes, poinsettias and toy soldiers, and shop windows glow with twinkle lights, it’s difficult not to think of mistletoe and hum It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas. For many people, December is the time of parties and family events that include gift-giving, and gifts of all sorts from the many fine stores of New London – from fine home décor and kitchen gadgets at Mill Pond Mercantile and Three Sisters Furnishings to re-purposed treasures at Dancing Goat
Guests enjoy the 2018 Scandinavian Brunch at New London’s Evangelical Covenant Church. (copyright 2018, Amy Gronli)
Studio, from trendy and fashions at The Happy Sol to practical but still sought-after gear at Pete’s Surplus – can easily be found in an afternoon’s stroll downtown or quick drive up Highway 9. Be sure to stop by the newer stores in town including Dragonfly Boutique, Gossman Pottery, and Paisley Threads as you look for that just-perfect gift for a friend, family member, or co-worker.
The holidays are also a time for traditions to be shared as the older generations pass them along to the next. Many churches in the area will host special services to encourage not just spiritual reflection but also celebration of heritage and community. Two such events are the Annual Scandinavian Brunch held at the Evangelical Covenant Church on December 7 and the Christmas service at the Old Log Church (sponsored by the Norway Lake Lutheran Historical Association) held on the first Sunday of Advent. Both events allow residents and guests of Scandinavian heritage to remember how their ancestors took time during the cold winter months to be grateful for their land and lives in the New World while remembering what they left behind in the Old. At gatherings like these, bright candles and the calm lilting of a Norwegian carol can bring a sentimental tug to even the most hardened of hearts. But if you are looking for a more upbeat scene – traditions with a twist, you might say – you will definitely want to attend the 5th Annual Dickens Christmas on December 7 featuring family-friendly events in the morning and
Winter birds visit a well-stocked feeding station. (copyright 2018, Amy Gronli)
afternoon then special guests Miss Myra and the Moonshiners at the Little Theatre starting at 7 PM. They will bring hot jazz from the 1920s and 1930s to chase away the winter blues, and the Little Theatre will be offering a variety of refreshments to put a spring in your step and a tap in your toe.
So, whether you wish to explore our area’s prairies and oak savannas on foot or sled, hunker down on a five-gallon pail and wait for “the big one” to make its way to your fishing hole, shop for a special gift, attend a solemn, candle-lit service with family, meet with friends to chase away the winter chill with a local brew, or just watch the winter birds from the cozy warmth of your home, you can find your own calm and brightness in the beginning of New London’s winter.