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click to enlarge ALISON NOVAK
  • alison novak

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I took a much-needed walk in the park with my kids, husband, parents and sister. Halfway through our outing, it began to drizzle. But as we approached the parking lot, our jaws dropped at the sight of a huge rainbow arching across the sky. Then, right before our eyes, another rainbow appeared above it, creating a double rainbow worthy of internet-meme fame.

We spent 15 minutes marveling at the beautiful dispersion of light, fully elated as we took pictures and videos. The magical moment got me thinking about the transformative power of nature — to excite, calm, uplift and make me forget everyday problems, even if just temporarily.

That sentiment is at the heart of Ken Picard's feature story in this month's issue, "Explore and Soar." Picard writes about a University of Vermont class called Birding to Change the World. He describes how UVM lecturer Trish O'Kane pairs college students with elementary-school kids and gets the group bird-watching. O'Kane, a former journalist and human rights investigator, became interested in birds when she returned to her New Orleans home four months after Hurricane Katrina hit. In the wake of the storm's destruction, the returning birds — and their songs — had a calming, almost therapeutic, effect on her. Now O'Kane strives to get kids into the woods so they, too, can share that experience.

Gliding across a pristine field of snow on cross-country skis is another way to revel in the majestic outdoors. In "Fit Families," Sarah Tuff Dunn suggests 10 places in Vermont perfect for family cross-country skiing — and snowshoeing — outings. Some even involve cookies and hot chocolate!

On days when it's just too blustery to be outside, your family can try some of the indoor activities we've compiled in these pages. Read about Stowe Mountain Resort's new $25 million Adventure Center, with climbing walls galore, in "Rocking a Winter Wonderland;" it includes a sidebar of other indoor climbing centers. And turn to "Destination Recreation" to learn about a new photo studio in Burlington that provides a good dose of old-timey family fun.

This installment of Kids VT is our only double issue of the year, so you'll find an events calendar packed with December and January activities. Look for our next issue in February 2017; it comes out the week of our annual Camp & School Fair on Saturday, February 4, at the Burlington Hilton. In the meantime, the crew at Kids VT wishes you a happy New Year, one filled with beauty, wonder and maybe even a few rainbows.


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