WINTER PLAY... isn't governed by any true rules. Nope, you don't need to use a carrot for a snowman's nose, if you don't have a carrot available; a jalapeño might do just fine (just be careful about touching your eyes with your mittens immediately following the jalapeño's placement). And you don't need to ski, if skiing isn't your bag. You can make angels out of snow or craft snowballs or ice skate or do anything that the chillier temperature and the drift-laden ground will allow, play-wise. It's in this spirit that a classic winter festival exists. For sure, skiing might pop up, and the other touchstones you're bound to see at an outdoor get-together in February, but there's going to be some other frosty doings afoot as well. If you'd like to see what a small-town winter festival is like, and you just might be in shouting distance of June Lake over the last weekend of February (like if you're visiting Mammoth Mountain), stop by the June Lake Winter Festival on Saturday, February 27. There's a full slate of alfresco, snowflake-fun haps, including a snowmobile poker rally, which involves riders building a poker hand at various stops around the area.
IF ICY ART IS MORE YOUR BAG, get into the snow sculpture side of things. 'Tis the season, around mountain towns, for people to explore making fantastical sculptures out of frozen water. If you've got young'uns with you, there'll be a small hill for sledding as well, as well as other activities with a wintry, outdoorsy bent. We know, we know: Summer and fall are prime June Lake times, what with the fishing and hiking and all of those glorious aspens. But it turns out all times are prime around the pretty body of water, even -- or especially -- when February arrives and scarves and hats are the order of the day. Really, though: If you do use a pepper for your snowman's nose, you may want to pack a change of mittens. Just a suggestion. For more cold-weather doings around the charmer of a town, visit Mono County's main HQ.