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Spanking new year, same old story: we all peer outside from the warmth of our homes for a couple weeks and then, realizing that winter ain't going anywhere anytime soon, concede that if we want to stave off cabin fever, we're going to have to make with the bulky coats and really unattractive boots.

So when you finally achieve acceptance (the final stage of grief), there are a number of activities you can participate in to make the cold-weather months tolerable, and possibly even enjoyable. And if you're one of the many who are in denial (that's the first stage of grief) about the current climate, Rochester actually does offer a couple of summer-esque pastimes that just might make the snow melt faster.

Communing with nature: The Rochester Birding Association (www.rochesterbirding.com) has a number of birdwatching trips planned, and the Genesee Valley Audubon Society (www.gvaudubon.org) hosts hikes the first Sunday of every month as well as various nature walks and talks on animal conservation. The Genesee Valley Hiking Club (www.fingerlakestrail.org/gvhc.htm) also has hikes scheduled weekends during the month of January.

LetchworthState Park offers a wide spectrum of programs ranging from ski hikes to ice-fishing clinics and is considered one of the New YorkState's best winter parks. But "the Grand Canyon of the East" doesn't have a website, so give the people over at The Genesee Naturalist a call (493-3625) if you'd like a calendar of events.

And don't forget about RochesterMuseum and ScienceCenter's CummingNatureCenter (www.rmsc.org/cnc/cncframeset.htm) in Naples, West Irondequoit'sHelmerNatureCenter (336-3035), and the NatureCenter at GeneseeCountryVillage (www.gcv.org/attractions/natureCenter.shtml) in Mumford.

Orienteering: This is a sport that combines map reading with physical activity, be it hiking, biking, canoeing, or, in the winter months, skiing. The Rochester Orienteering Club (roc.us.orienteering.org) wraps up its season with a ski meet on January 22 in MendonPondsPark. Appealing to all ages and fitness levels, orienteering can be either a competitive team or leisurely group event. Visit ROC's website or call their hotline at 377-5650.

Skating: The rink at Manhattan Square Park is closed for major renovations during the 2005-2006 season, so a city dweller's best ice-skating bet might be indoors at Genesee Valley Park Ice Rink, 131 Elmwood Avenue, where they offer skating lessons, open skate time, and hockey leagues. Call 428-7888 for programs and hours of operation, or visit www.cityofrochester.gov. There's also ESL Sports Centre (www.handzon.com/itechapp/esl), Thomas Creek Ice Arena (www.tcice.com) in Fairport, and the Webster Ice Arena (www.websterarena.org).

Skiing and snow boarding: Of course there's Bristol Mountain Resort (www.bristolmt.com), SwainSkiCenter (www.swain.com), Brantling in Sodus (www.brantling.com), and, a little farther afield, Cortland's GreekPeak (www.greekpeak.net). Swain also runs the learn-to-ski programs at Northampton and PowderMillsParks (www.monroecounty.gov).

Cross-country aficionados should visit the websites of the Rochester Nordic Ski Club (www.rochesternordic.org) and the Rochester Cross-Country Ski Foundation (www.xcrochester.com) for comprehensive information on trails, day trips, and snow reports.

Outdoor recreation indoors: Shoot hoops, kick a soccer ball, or visit the batting cages at RochesterSportsGarden (www.rocsportsgarden.com), or join an indoor baseball league at Frozen Ropes (www.frozenropesrochester.com). Golf addicts (i.e., all golfers) can ride out the winter at the driving range at the Rochester Sports Dome (www.salmoncreekcc.com/sports_dome/default.htm).

But if you have no interest at all in leaving the house yet you still have a hankering to make snowpeople, visit www.benjerry.com/fun_stuff/online/virtual_snowman. A steaming mug of cocoa following cyber-construction might be overkill, but it certainly aids in ambiance.

Check in with City's weekly sports and recreation listings for information on specific events.

In This Guide...

    Winter Guide 2006

    City Newspaper breaks it down for you
    In this year's guide to the winter season, we've focused on things to do. Much like the government's odd, grammatical anti-obesity campaign ("VERB: It's what you do"), City wants you to get out and get moving.

    Hear

    Yup, it's DVD, CD, and fireplace weather for the next few months. But if you live alone, you might get a little lonely.

    Celebrate

    The heartiest and most enterprising souls among us realize winter can be not only a time of fun, but a time of tourism! Why not get the people out of their huts and into the open, they reason, if only for a brief while?

    Look

    After some brief holiday downtime, local galleries and museums are back in full force. So you have an array of culture to choose from, if you're into that kind of thing.

    Listen

    Hear that? Because so many local organizations and institutions go all out planning them for this slow time of year, winter is a great time to attend lectures.

    Applaud

    Here's an outline to plan your ticket-foraging with. Scatter a few of these evenings through the season like little culture outposts and absorb some of the talent --- both local and bussed in --- at hand this season.

    Shelter from the storm

    Winter skills
    If you've lived in Rochester for any length of time, you've probably muttered nasty words under your breath about the weather. And during the five months we call "winter," one of those words was probably "arctic."

    City's winter choices

    City's winter choice: dancing There are plenty of ways to raise your body temperature this winter and have some fun doing it (i.e. you don't have to use words like "cardio," "reps," or "ow") That's right, you should be dancing. Many local groups and venues offer dance nights in their genre of choice, often at low cost and with some sort of basic instruction.

    Frozen in pictures

    Winter Guide photo contest
    Our inaugural Winter Guide photo contest has been a success. We had great response to our call for photos of winter in the Rochester area.

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