Five activities to try this winter

Hannah Grover
Luminarias are displayed at San Juan College in Farmington on Dec. 6 as part of the school's annual display.

FARMINGTON — With temperatures dropping into the low 30s at night, popular activities such as hiking, four-wheeling, rafting and mountain biking are becoming less attractive as residents retreat to the warmth of their houses.

Here are five things to try this winter:

The sun moves across the solstice marker on Dec. 20 during the Winter Solstice celebration at the Farmington Public Library. The library will introduce its new card designs based on Tony Hillerman novels during this year's Winter Solstice event

1. Curl up with a good book

People interested in checking books off their reading list can stop by the Farmington Public Library and join a book club or start one of their own. The library offers book group kits to go, said Jenny Lee Ryan, the program coordinator for the library.

The kits have nearly 200 books to choose from, ranging from classics like Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" to modern favorites like Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games. A complete list is available at the library's website,

"It's a resource sharing program that the library provides to local book groups," said Charlene Swanson, the adult services librarian.

Kits include 13 paperback books, an author biography and a book summary, Swanson said. The kits can be checked out for three months at a time.

The library also sponsors three book clubs, including one focused on the mystery genre and two that have "eclectic" tastes, Swanson said. While these book clubs often disband in the summer, they come back together in the fall.

Another popular program is Reel Readers, which features a monthly movie based on a book. The programs are offered eight months a year. This month, the library will screen "The Theory of Everything," based on the book "Traveling to Infinity" by Jane Hawking. The movie will play at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. It will be the last Reel Readers program of 2015, and the program will start again in January.

The library also offers activities for families, including visits from authors. Children's author Nancy Bo Flood will be at the library at 5:30 p.m. Monday for a family event. Flood has written several books, including "The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons," which won the Arizona Book of the Year award, and "Warriors In the Crossfire," a young adult historical novel that won Colorado Book of the Year. Her most recent book is "Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo."

Also this winter, the library will introduce a new library card design with images by Don Strel of places featured in Tony Hillerman novels. Strel's wife, Anne Hillerman, is the famous novelist's daughter. The cards will be introduced for the first time during the library's annual winter solstice celebration on Dec. 21.

Proceeds from San Juan College's annual Hospice Charity Bowl sale benefit Northwest New Mexico Hospice.

2. Stop by Mary's Kitchen for a warm bowl of soup

The San Juan College art department is hosting its annual Hospice Charity Bowl Sale from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 12 and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Henderson Fine Arts Building at the college's main campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. Students create the handmade bowls, and proceeds from the sale benefit Northwest New Mexico Hospice.

After purchasing a bowl, head over to Mary's Kitchen at the college to receive a free serving of soup.

In addition to bowls, vendors will sell items like Christmas ornaments, scarves and beadwork.

For more information, call Don Ellis, associate ceramics professor, at 505-566-3486.

Runners start to race on Dec. 20 during the 5K Reindeer Romp on Main Street in Farmington.

3. Get out and exercise 

Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean people can’t explore the great outdoors. Various local attractions, such as the Bisti/De Na Zin Wilderness Area, offer adventures for outdoor enthusiasts even in the colder months.

Bird-lovers can participate in the annual Christmas bird counts in Farmington. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 19 in Farmington. Birders will meet at Riverside Nature Center to walk the trails by the river and observe the birds.

Another way to stay active inthe winter is to participate in races like the Turkey Trot and Gobble Wobble. The 5K fun run and 2-mile walk will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 21 starting at Orchard Park in downtown Farmington. Family and friends can participate in games, face painting and a gobble contest while people walk and run. At the end, the groups with the best costumes also have a chance to win.

In addition to the Turkey Trot, the Reindeer Romp provides another chance to run through the downtown area. The chip-timed 5K starts at 4 p.m. Dec. 17 at Orchard Park. The romp includes a visit from Santa Claus, live music, carnival games and refreshments like hot apple cider.

For more information about the Turkey Trot or the Reindeer Romp, call 505-599-1184.

Nancy Wirtanen folds fabrics on Thursday at the Patchwork Pig Quilt Store and Gallery on West Main Street in Farmington. Winter is an ideal time to learn how to quilt.

4. Learn a new craft

Winter can be a good time to take up a new hobby like quilting.

Nancy Wirtanen, a Patchwork Pig employee who has been quilting for 20 years, said the hardest part of the process is actually picking out the colors and discovering individual styles.

"The technical part is easy," she said.

Quilting is an individual art, especially when it comes to selecting the fabrics, said store owner Deb Williams. Because of that, Patchwork Pig offers a variety of colors and patterns, ranging from modern to traditional.

"Everybody who comes in finds at least something they like," Williams said.

Patchwork Pig also offers classes to reach people how to quilt. Register for a class by visiting the store at 309 W. Main St. in Farmington.

"Winter's a good time to sign up for a class," Wirtanen said.

Once you get going, the shop also has programs like "Block of the Month" and "Saturday Sampler."

In "Block of the Month," participants pick up fabric to build quilting blocks whenever they want.

"Saturday Sampler" is a little more challenging. Participants buy the first block of quilt patterns and fabric in January. Then, each month at a set time on a Saturday, they bring in the completed block and get the fabric for the next block.

"It's kind of a game," Wirtanen said.

If you're not interested in quilting, several other organizations also offer opportunities to learn new crafts. The Farmington Museum will host a holiday papercrafting workshops for adults from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 to 20. The workshop costs $7, and the fee includes the cost of supplies. The workshops teach adults an inexpensive, yet creative way to craft gifts and holiday decor. Pre-registration is required. To register, call 505-599-1169.

Children run through an area lit with green lights on Dec. 5 during RiverGlo at Berg Park in Farmington.

5. Check out local holiday celebrations

The City of Farmington's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department is putting together its first-ever "Miracle on Main Street" from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

"The goal is to make it a new tradition," said Jody Carman, a spokeswoman for the PRCA.

She said the event builds on other popular events like Riverglo and the San Juan College luminarias. Riverglo will light up Berg Park with luminarias from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, while the college will display more than 40,000 luminarias from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Dec. 5.

"You end up your weekend with us on Sunday," Carman said about the Miracle on Main Street celebration.

The event, which will feature caroling and lighting of a Christmas tree, will also serve as an opportunity for residents to try out the city's new ice skating rink. The rink, which opens Dec. 7, will be open until Jan. 9.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.