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We accidentally sent the wrong link in our newsletter this morning to a small batch of readers! If you’re looking for the story: Springfield blanketed with snow overnight, click here.
The ground is white and you know what that means: it’s time for flakey fun in the Ozarks.
Whether it’s deep or just a dusting, snowfall in Southwest Missouri presents rare ways to play outdoors no matter how old you are. Try one of these five ideas!
Leave a snowman surprise
Build a silly snowman, snowwoman, snow creature — whatever you can imagine — but with a twist. Do it in a public space — like a city park or along an Ozarks Greenways trail — to inspire a smile when it’s discovered by others. Use natural elements like sticks, berries and stones for faces and details so your creation won’t leave trash when it eventually melts. Of course, if roads aren’t safe, build a front-yard snowman to greet your neighbors. And if the snow is too powdery to pack, use a stick to draw a face or figure, like you would in the sand.
Find a slope in your neighborhood or take your sleds to a hill around Springfield. Popular sledding spots include hilly areas around Wanda Gray Elementary, Carver Middle School, Doling Park, Jordan Valley Park, Lake Springfield Park and near the soccer fields at Pat Jones YMCA.
A few tips:
- Use your judgment about whether a hill looks too steep or has too many trees
- Avoid hills that end at water or a road
- Don’t show up at a school when classes are being held
Take a nature snow hike
There’s nothing quite like the beauty and sense of hush you’ll find while hiking or walking in a natural area after (or even during) a snowfall. It’s a good time to look for animal tracks, or take your camera out for some snow pics (read our winter photography guide here).
Dress warmly, wear traction boots and avoid icy conditions or slippery slopes. There are plenty of level trails around Springfield.
Try one of these local outdoor areas (Click to expand story)
- The gravel Gibson’s Mill Trail at Tour Road stop No. 1 of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
- Trails and spaces around Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene Park (2400 S. Scenic Ave.), including the trail around the lake at Close Memorial Park, around the Gray/Campbell Farmstead buildings and inside the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
- The Trail of Honor along James River (park at the Southwood James River Water Trail boat access, 5201 S. Southwood Rd.) You may want to turn around at the hill, or if you trek up, it continues as a level path. (Tip: Take your kids and sleds for a sledding/snow walk outing.)
- The gravel section of the Frisco Highline Trail, starting in Willard toward Walnut Grove (between points 8 and 9 on this map, roughly near this convenience store); or start at the nearby Willard Trailhead (107 E. Jackson St.)
- The Fulbright Spring Trail, starting at the David C. Murray Trailhead toward Lost Hill Park (be careful crossing the bridge, which may be slippery). If you don’t mind hills and have the boots for them, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center is another beautiful trail area when snow is on the ground (4601 S. Nature Center Way).
Make snow art
Get creative in your own yard by making artful outdoor sculptures and decor using snow and freezing temps. Try one of these family-friendly ideas:
Build a Swedish Snow Lantern — Here’s how: Pack enough snowballs to build a hollow cone, starting with snowballs forming the base and layering to build up walls, narrower and narrower. (Make a large one, as illustrated in this video, or several smaller ones). Leave an opening at the top to place a battery-operated candle or lantern inside — or more than one — for an evening glow.
Make Multicolor Ice Marbles — Fill balloons with water and food coloring to leave out overnight when you know the temperature will drop below freezing (or use your freezer). Peel or cut away the balloon and decorate your snow-covered lawn with colorful frozen orbs. Two tips for filling balloons: Drop food coloring into the balloon, then stretch over a faucet mouth to fill. Or mix color and water first in a disposable water bottle and stretch the balloon over the bottle’s mouth. Squeeze the bottle to force water into the balloon. Remove and tie shut. Another idea with food coloring is to make a Snow Volcano.
Decorate Trees with Ice Ornaments — Tromp through the snow to gather natural items around your yard — or on your snow hike — like evergreen stems, berries, dried grasses and seeds. Place several items into muffin tins or shallow bowls, then fill with water. Add a loop of ribbon or string and leave outdoors to freeze (or use your freezer). Once frozen, pop them out to hang on bare tree branches. (We found this idea here for more detailed info.)
Feed the birds
If it’s too cold to go outside for more than a few minutes, help the birds through winter by making a birdseed feeder to hang on a tree in your yard. There are many recipes and ideas online. Here’s one idea shared by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Bird Seed Ice Ring How-to — Fill a bundt can pan halfway with birdseed (and/or fresh or dried fruit). Add six or more sticks (from your yard or try popsicle sticks) arranged around the circle like sun rays. These are for birds to perch upon. Take the pan and a pitcher of water to a shady spot in your yard when temperatures will dip below freezing. Pour water into the pan (not quite full) and leave it overnight. (You can also use your freezer.) After the ring freezes, bring it inside, remove ice from the pan and tie rope or string through the hole. Hang it on a tree you can see from your window. For more detailed instructions, visit MDC here.