The snow flurries began in Flagstaff early Saturday morning in the winter's first effort to claim its vital place in our much-needed cycle of moisture. And the light showers of tiny flakes quickly changed from sporadic into gales of wind-driven squalls.

Dust off those snowshoes, folks! It's trek and tramp time in Flagstaff!

But not just yet -- the white deposits weren't deep enough by that afternoon to warrant a grapple with gaiters or a tussle with snowshoe buckles. So we delayed our venture into the fast whitening woods until the following day.

But still no "Eureka" on Sunday because only a few additional inches of snow had fallen on the trails east of the Butler Avenue deadend. We hiked anyway as it was a clear, sunny day and the new fallen snow covered just enough to change the terrain into a gleaming white, almost unfamiliar landscape.

The joys of winter stay hidden and are much harder to appreciate if we choose to view that season with foreboding. But winter won't be judged in negative terms if we honestly admit its value to our community and the enjoyable possibilities of its seasonal activities.

Enthusiasm is the key word. Feed the winter birds, walk the neighborhood or make a cold weather soup. Cross  country ski, go sledding at Fort Tuthill or snowshoe McMillan Mesa. It's all good.

We aren't all superstar downhill skiers, superior snowboarders or able to climb a slab of cliff ice. The people engaged in those activities are certainly worthy of our admiration, but we average, everyday kind of folks need to do less applauding and more participating.

Like it or not, winter happens every year and will always be a part of our northern Arizona life so we might as well find some fun-filled activities to celebrate its arrival. Don't just sit there moping. Get up and do something!

On another subject, have you ever drank homemade sarsaparilla? You probably just had a vision of a goody two-boots town guy in one of those Western Hollywood movies asking a barkeeper for a mug of that modest concoction. You'll also remember how he was treated for requesting such a weak beverage. Most of the time he was pitched through the swinging doors of a saloon into the dusty road by a sneering cowboy villain.

The nerve of that stinker (the sarsaparilla, not the sneering cowboy villain) for having such a childish moniker. Why not label it with a more grownup name like Swig & Slurp or Guzzle & Gulp?

Despite its humble name, sarsaparilla has a pleasing taste. And thanks to my brewmaster friend, Steve

Westerdahl, I now know what the teetotalers living in the Wild West drank. My only problem with drinking Sarsaparilla, however, is I have to be able to quickly spot any sneering cowboy villain headed in my direction.

Correction: The proper name of the Flagstaff Half Marathon is the Big Brothers Big Sisters and the website to register in my column had a period missing. The address is: