Winter activities have changed

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Back when I was a little kid, more than six decades ago, winter was spent outdoors as much as possible.

This was when Indiana actually got a lot of snow and all the kids had snowball fights and got paid to shovel the neighbor’s walks.

A decade later, I spent a lot of time riding our horses through the snow and pulling a line of sleds behind the jeep in our farm field. The next three decades, I spent wintertime at work, plowing snow (which I really enjoyed), clearing walks, and hunting and trapping.

After I retired, my winter activities changed.

I spent a lot more time indoors looking out at the snow and cold.

My favorite outdoor time was when we had some snow and I got to shovel the driveway. (Yes, I really enjoyed shoveling snow.)

But Susie took my snow shovel away because she said I was too old. So, I had to find something else to do during the winter months.

I already had one activity I really enjoyed. That is woodworking in our garage.

The garage is heated, so that’s not a problem.

I have a Shopsmith with a band saw, table saw, drill press, wood lathe, horizontal boring machine and disc sander — and it all fits in about the space of a bicycle.

Unfortunately, my wife wants to put her car in the garage and doesn’t want it covered in sawdust. If the weather is not bad, I put her car outside in the day, use my wood tools, then I return her car inside for the night. If it’s really cold or snowing outside, her car stays inside all day.

That means I have to find something else to do.

Then, I resort to doing activities I enjoyed many years ago.

These are things almost any senior citizen can do.

First, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking assorted goodies.

Even if you have never baked a cookie in your life, baking is simple.

You can Google three- or four-ingredient desserts. I have taught 5- and 6-year-old kids how to bake.

Buy a graham cracker pie crust. The one I buy has a recipe included which tastes like a cheesecake. One pie crust, one can of sweetened condensed milk, some lemon juice, and a can of pie filling (flavor your choice) is all it takes. A box cake mix usually requires two or three more ingredients, pour into a pan, and take it out of the oven when the timer dings. Cover with a jar of store-bought icing and enjoy a great cake.

If baking is not high on your list, maybe painting would be something you would like to try.

I took some Bob Ross painting lessons years ago and still have all the brushes, canvases and easel. I’m sure the paints are dried up, but I can get more at a craft store, if I want.

When I was young, I painted many paint-by-number pictures. Those kits are still available. This would be a great activity for seniors to spend while looking at winter from indoors.

Of course, I spend a lot of my time (all year) writing stories. This is not something everyone can do, but maybe you can write some stories about events in your life as something for your kids and grandkids to read.

Maybe you could document some of your genealogy. I’m sure the local library has helpful books or maybe classes on searching for your ancestors.

While there, ask the librarian what other activities they offer for seniors.

While I’ve never gotten into stamp collecting, maybe that is something you could check out. Stop into the Post Office and ask them how to get started. Coin collecting is more of interest to me. I find a lot of coins with my metal detectors. Many of the houses in Pendleton have been around for well over 100 years. If you can get permission to metal detect a couple of these yards (when winter is over!), maybe you could find some old coins to begin a collection.

When I was in high school and college, I worked a lot of crossword puzzles. I always worked the “hard” ones and I did them in pen. It was like playing chess. I always had to think four or five words ahead before I filled in the blank.

Now I work the easy ones, but I still do them in pen.

I also have a large stack of jigsaw puzzles, which is another great winter activity.

By the time you try out a few of these ideas, winter will be over and you can resume your normal outdoor activities.

Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected].