My favorite winter activity

Jan. 1, 2020 - Senior Connections
By Dale Kovar

The periods of daylight are finally getting longer again. All the holiday decorations are packed away. And we still have several weeks left before it’s comfortable to go outside.

So what do we do in winter?

It’s a process of elimination.

I’ve never developed an interest in typical outdoor winter activities like snowmobiling or ice fishing.

My winter outdoors time pretty much consists of removing snow from the driveway or scurrying between vehicles and buildings.

Staying indoors, even sports doesn’t fill the gap at this time of year.

Over the years, I’ve soured on football. The Timberwolves have never earned my attention. Hockey is just slippery soccer. Our kids are past high school sports age.

So what’s a fella to do?

Go back to the basics: reading.

Winter is a great time to settle in with a good book, and there are millions of choices.

Our libraries offer us the world, no matter what our interests may be. These days it’s just a quick online search to find, and even order, books that we would like to read. In many cases, other similar books are suggested as well.

If a particular book isn’t in the local library system, they’ll order it from somewhere else.

And did I mention that it’s free!?!

I can’t claim a favorite all-time book, and won’t go so far as recommending a reading list. There are so many options you just have to choose and enjoy for yourself.

I do notice that my reading habits tend to follow a binge pattern – reading multiple similar-topic books in a row. Sometimes I just sort of stumble into finding them.

Growing up, my grandmother enjoyed the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner, so that was among my early reading. I can still go back to those books, and if the readings are several years apart, I don’t even remember whodunnit.

Several years ago after visiting Colorado, I recalled that my second-cousin Galen Rowell was a well-known photographer/mountain climber, so I tracked down some of his books.

That led me on my own expedition in which I was able to survive a couple winters by reading various accounts of mountain climbing on K2, Mt. Everest, and others. I developed geographic knowledge of Nepal and the Baltoro Glacier, and could recite safety practices for dealing with altitude.

It became difficult to complain about walking from my work building to my car in 20-below temperatures when the night before I had read about mountain climbers who spent several days in a small tent waiting out a blizzard at 20,000-plus feet.

Another time, and I don’t remember the trigger that started it, I tracked down every book I could find written by people who had near-death experiences and their descriptions of what Heaven is like.

That made for many hours of pondering what they wrote and comparing it to the Bible itself.

I’ve also gone through numerous baseball and running books, and a few autobiographies. The joy of reading is that there is so much available. And there are dozens and dozens of other topics out there that I could care less about – but maybe you do?

If you’ve made it this far, you must enjoy reading too.

Cold snap

Speaking of winter, I used to tell the story that one year when I was in college, the temperature didn’t get above zero for three weeks.

Upon further review, I was disappointed to learn that it really wasn’t as bad as my memory told me.

What I was thinking of was a stretch of 23 consecutive days in which the low temperature was below zero, not the high. (It still was miserable!)

Within that month, though, there was an eight-day period in which the high for the day was below zero on five days, and three of those days, the high was lower than 10-below.

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