By Jeff Tome

Winter is a time to fill hours. Long, dark nights and short, cold days tend to force people to spend more time inside. How you spend that time says a lot about a person. Some folks binge watch shows on TV, learning how to cook things they will never make or getting sucked into the lives of characters created in someone else’s head. Others while away the hours by playing games on their phones or video game systems. Others immerse themselves in books, stretching their minds and imaginations in new ways. Still others love to put together 1,000 piece puzzles, carefully putting their eyes and brains to work.

There are more useful ways to spend time as well. I know knitters and quilters who knit and sew together warmth over the winter. Some donate their creations to others, leaving mittens and scarves hanging on lines for others to take or giving lovingly-made quilts to friends and relatives. Some people build furniture or remodel rooms, accomplishing more in a winter than many do through years of living in a home.

Gardeners use the winter months to dream. Seed catalogs roll in and gardeners quietly plan out what they will grow. Will it be a good year for tomatoes? Should we plant less kale? Maybe it would be good to add flowers and more basil into the yard.

Of course, winter lovers can’t wait for the snow to fall! They ski, hike, snowshoe, sled, and snowmobile through the cold. They dress in layers and have different hats and gloves for different temperatures so that, whatever the weather, they are always comfortably warm.

Children are among the best winter lovers. There are so many ways that a child can occupy themselves in the snow. They can build snowmen, as well as snow dogs, seals, or turtles. Snow forts slowly morph into snow houses and snowball battles into cave digging. A large, icy puddle can turn into a sliding challenge that morphs into a contest to see who can break through the ice. Winter turns the world into a magical land of adventure where the familiar is buried and becomes new again.

Audubon Community Nature Center works hard to provide a place for winter activity. The trails are open for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The building is full of interactive exhibits and indoor play areas for children to stretch their imaginations and create new things.

Audubon’s 40th annual Snowflake Festival on February 5 will have demonstrations of some of the many things that people can do to spend time in the winter. There will be creative winter games set up, a winter fire and s’mores, knitters, spinners, maple tappers and more available for people to enjoy.

Stretch your mind and your skill this winter by trying something new.

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is open daily, including restrooms, the Blue Heron Gift Shop, Indoor Nature Play Area and exhibits. More information can be found online at or by calling (716) 569-2345.