Category: Winter

Safety First at the Polar Plunge

January 1st might be National Polar Bear Swim Day, but Saturday, February 18, 2017 is the day to mark on your calendar. It is the one day of the year when you can watch perfectly reasonable human beings – attorneys, firefighters, high school students, engineers and retirees – purposely walk, jump, skip or even swish into frigidly cold water. For ten years this wild behavior has been going on. And all to benefit Special Olympics.

Whether the skies are sunny or the snow is blowing, folks will head out to Versailles State Park for the annual Polar Plunge next month. However, before any of the participants can enter the lake, local divers cut through 9” of solid ice to clear the plunge area.

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Between the preparation and the start of the event, emergency personnel check and recheck their gear while experienced divers drink plenty of water and relax.

Every dive demands pre-planning, training and focus. The water rescue team outfits each rescue truck with everything necessary for all kinds of emergencies including dark water, swift water and ice rescues.


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Gear like these lines and chain saws are tested frequently and maintained scrupulously to ensure the safety of the divers and the person – or animal – being rescued.

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Each diver is only one part of a large, cohesive team. Even getting dressed properly requires a group effort.


Testing gear, communicating with the team and being alert are three vital aspects of any dive.





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Clearing the Polar Plunge area of debris that can injure a participant, or impede a rescue is an ongoing process.





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The divers share a bond that is difficult to describe. Words like ‘family’, ‘brotherhood’, ‘tight’ cannot define the shared life and death experiences these men and women face regularly in and out of the water as part of the Team.

Everyone has a job to do – from hauling gear, drying lines and inspecting the dive site.

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Once in the frigid water, the team does another sweep before getting into position.

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Almost ready …


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Another successful, safe – and fun – Polar Plunge!

To learn about upcoming Polar Plunges in your area, please visit:

To learn more about Rescue Diving, please visit:



The dreaded Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, and with it the stress and angst not seen in our spouses, partners, and loved ones since … well, since Christmas, I suppose.
What is it about these holidays that causes many men, and more than a few women, to quake at the mere thought of gift-giving? When asked, a surprising number of perfectly reasonable adults claim that they have no idea as to what to give their beloved. These are the men and women who have spent months or years laughing and arguing and snuggling with us. These cherished friends are the ones who immediately know what ‘that look’ means, or how to gently suggest that those lousy drivers and rude salesclerks might not be oh so dreadful and when was the last time we ate a little something, by the way?
But when it comes time for wrapping paper and ribbons, these wonderful people become strangers, and we’re lucky if they remember our favorite color, much less our secret desire to learn how to box or take up the didgeridoo. In all truth, I have not only been on the receiving end of that helpless look from the man I love, but I have made calls to his friends, asking for their guidance when I so very much want to give just the right gift.So, after a lot of thought, I have come up with the solution. It is the one gift that is always at the top of my and my friends’ Wish Lists.

Everyone of us most desperately wants the generous and too-rare gift of time. Time, and sincere … sharing … romance … affection. We yearn for communication beyond the daily drone of grocery lists, hungry pets, dirty kids and endless bills. Our psyches reach out to the ones we love with a deep need for quiet connection.Of course the reality of tight budgets and childcare cannot be ignored, but sometimes it is just as necessary to nurture the ones with whom we have chosen to share our lives, as it is to run a household efficiently. A little bit of effort put into showing how thoroughly we love someone can go a long way in softening those rougher edges of life.

So, grab your sweetie by the hand, and with a kiss and a squeeze, escape for a few hours or for a weekend. You already know some of the places or events that he or she has always wanted to visit, or you are familiar with her love of the zoo, or his delight in windmills, but below are a handful of ideas complete with links to get you started if you need a little push!


However, there is just one thing to bear in mind before we go any further. Even though this is the off-season, and there are countless things to do and see wherever you visit; to ensure that the adventure goes as smoothly as possible, it is terribly important for you, the official Giver-of-the-Gift-of-Time to have done your homework. Prior to announcing this fantabulous excursion with pride, excitement and adoration for your honey, you need to be ready so she/he will not have to plan, make calls, research or lift a finger in any way. You, the Loving One, will have put it all together.
And it will not be as tough a job as you might fear. Really it won’t. You just need to begin laying the groundwork now.

Here we go …

There are wine tastings and art programs offered at  Hocking Hills, year round. If she’ll want to hike and be outside most of the time, preplan by finding/making a cool walking stick and stuffing her coat pockets with hand warmers or that old knit hat with new gloves just for her.

A gourmet wintry picnic just outside your private cabin at Whitewater Memorial Park would certainly encourage snuggling in front of the fire. What about bringing along a thick, fluffy robe or a selection of scented candles?

Before soaking in the claw footed tub at a Bed and Breakfast, there are countless antique shops to discover or for the sports fan of your heart, the Indiana Football Hall of Fame is a fun choice. Is she a huge fan of a particular team? Could you track down a trading card or a scarf in the team colors?

If a road trip is something you both enjoy, set aside a weekend, or even better a few days during the week, to tour a cozy home in the mountains. This getaway could encourage some serious hand holding followed by an evening of romantic relaxation.

For the water-lover, a beach in the Midwest in the off season is the place to be. While there, travel though time while enjoying lunch with the locals.

It’s easy enough to scope things out beforehand by checking online, making a phone call, or stopping by the park, hotel or museum when running errands or on your way home from work.  Once you know where you’re going, make dinner/breakfast reservations at a nice place, or plan to pick up a special meal on your way in. Arrange to have flowers or a basket of her most favorite movies, books, music and other goodies already in the room when you check in, or sneak them into the car, and later the room once you arrive.


Plan the weekend with only your darling in mind. Do not leave any of the pesky details for him/her. Arrange for the children and pets and house to be taken care of; fill up with gas before leaving; buy any tickets for museums, concerts, etc. ahead of time. Get the dishes and laundry caught up before you drive away or have the house cleaned while you are gone so you both return to a lovely home.
I hope these ideas help even a little. As we all know, it’s not ‘stuff’ that matters – it’s how much thought you put into the present or plan – and how your knowledge of this incredible, exciting, comfortable, cherished, funny, odd and very loved cohort translates into the effort.

Good luck – and let me know about some of your own romantic destinations!

A Weekend Escape …

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On a wintry afternoon in November, I discovered a portal through time – or at least it felt like that as I walked through the Pioneer Village at the Governor Bebb Park in Butler County, Ohio.

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The sky was slate gray; the kind of sky that promised snow and hot cider and crackling fireplaces …

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… and the air was filled with the earthy fragrance of a blacksmith’s forge.

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I savored this escape into the 1800s. The wonderfully cold day was cheered by bright red ribbons and dark green garland. The fresh colors were in stark contrast to the rough wood that had been sawed and hewn, cut and planed hundreds of years earlier.

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As I walked through the village, I heard music playing on a dulcimer and couldn’t stop smiling.

What a lovely way to welcome the holidays.

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