Getting our bodies moving, our blood pumping, and seeing sights other than the four walls of our home or office are standard goals for wintertime exploration. But harsh weather can make that a daunting challenge even in a normal year. With the Omicron variant of Covid-19 rolling over the land, there are even more excuses to rationalize hibernation.
What we need for focus and motivation are specific destinations and activities, but even these are being closed or canceled left and right. What to do? If we can’t physically go exploring, then we must explore with our minds.
In normal times, mid-Hudsonites have long been able to look forward to a terrific lecture series beginning each January: Science in Your Life, organized by the Vassar Brothers Institute in Poughkeepsie. In 2021, the series went virtual, like so much other informational and entertainment programming. Will 2022 be the same? As of presstime, the VBI website (www.vassarbrothersinstitute.org/programs) hadn’t posted a schedule – only a cryptic teaser: “2022 Science in Your Life programs will be posted soon.”
Since we can’t yet let you know which if any science lectures are in the offing, we’ll have to direct your attention to another stalwart supplier of mental exercise: our region’s many libraries. It’s easy to forget what richness awaits us at these priceless community resources on a regular basis: storytime for kids, book talks, film screenings and discussions, knitting clubs, seed swaps, yoga and meditation classes, chess clubs, Dungeons and Dragons games, computer tech consultations, language and music lessons, tool-lending programs, writers’ critique groups, math tutoring, nature and local history talks, art exhibits and so on and on. Typically, you don’t even need to have a library card or live in the same town to participate; and most offerings are free, except perhaps a materials fee for crafts.
While pretty much all our libraries have reopened since the first peak of the plague in early 2021, some aren’t currently presenting any live programming. The Highland Library, for instance, has canceled all on-site programs for the month of January, except for curbside pickups of kits for crafts projects. Still, nearly all our local libraries have scheduled plenty of virtual programming, and a fair few are hosting in-person gatherings, with masks required and all CDC-recommended social-distancing protocols in effect.
Below are some suggestions for programming coming up in the next month, both live and virtual, that seems intriguing enough to warrant our attention – and perhaps even an expedition out into the wintry gusts and gales. Please note that nearly all these programs require pre-registration, Visit the individual library websites for links.
Poughkeepsie Public Library District
Generally, the libraries presenting the most live events these days are the larger systems with the most physical sites where attendees can spread out, the Poughkeepsie Library being the clear winner here. It appears to be the only one in our region with in-person author talks scheduled in the near future.
Meet the Author: Judith Paolercio, Pas de Deux (live)
Saturday, January 15, 2:30 p.m.
Adriance Memorial Library
Paolercio studied dance and was taught by former professional dancers from the New York City Ballet. Many years later, it would be where the heart of her novel, Pas de Deux, was drawn from. She currently lives with her husband on the Hudson River in Dutchess County, in the small hamlet of New Hamburg.
Conversation with Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends (live)
Sunday, February 6, 2:30 p.m.
Boardman Road Branch Library
Best-selling author Gary Shteyngart brings his unique humor and satirical perspectives to this casual library gathering. Copies of his new novel set in the Hudson Valley, Our Country Friends, will be available for purchase and signing.
History: The Strange Disappearance of Captain William Morgan (virtual)
Tuesday, February 1, 11 a.m.
This program by Michael T. Keene describes how the alleged kidnapping and murder of William Morgan prevented him from publishing a book that would reveal the inner secrets of the Masonic order.
Artificial Intelligence Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow (live)
Tuesdays, January 18, February 1, 2:30 p.m.
Adriance Memorial Library
Attendees will learn the most common AI applications and a brief history of AI. Over eight weeks, this tour will visit relevant topics in four class sessions with notes, selected videos, articles and suggested book reads. In between, you will watch four popular movies that document and fictionalize some of the topics presented during the seminars. The class format is designed to encourage discussion and sharing of views.
How to Talk with Family or Friends about Beliefs Fueled by Misinformation (live)
Saturdays, January 22 & 29, 2 p.m.
Boardman Road Branch Library
January 22: Having the Tough Conversation; January 29: Techniques for Navigating the Misinformation Landscape. Register separately.
Do you have someone in your life who shares misinformation online or in person? How do you respond? These programs will help you understand the misinformation landscape and give you tips for having productive conversations without a big showdown. Excerpts from several practical webinars produced by the News Literacy Project and AARP will be presented and discussed.
Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz
The Elting Library has an active youth group, which often takes the lead in organizing its own events – even fundraisers for the library. Here’s a gathering that ingeniously can happen live, despite the building’s space limitations:
Teen Group Marshmallow Roast (live)
Sunday, January 30, 4 p.m.
Field of Dreams Park
An annual Elting tradition is having community members, including children, decorate individual themed quilt squares that are then assembled into a Hope Quilt in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. This year, people who want to participate but not to attend the live group event in person were given the opportunity to pick up squares to take home on Friday, January 14.
Hope Quilt In-Person Decorating Event for MLK Day (live)
Monday, January 17, 2 p.m.
Esopus Library, Port Ewen
Something we haven’t seen offered elsewhere can be found on the Esopus Library’s teen events page: links to play digital versions of escape rooms by solving puzzles via Google Forms. Currently available are challenges with themes based on the Marvel Avengers, Alice in Wonderland and Star Wars. Adults might enjoy them as well.
Want some more serious food for thought? Check this one out:
Presentation: Food & Agricultural Systems and Climate Change (virtual)
Wednesday, January 19, 6 p.m.
Steph Herbstritt, an agricultural engineer and educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, will be presenting on the ways our food and agricultural systems (FAS) contribute to climate change and how FAS can be solutions for climate resistance.
The Gardiner Library keeps a busy events schedule year-round, including nature walks that head out on the trail right from the building’s doorstep. An exhibition of Stacie Flint’s vibrantly colored paintings will be up for the rest of January and part of February, if your winter blues need an infusion of good cheer. Here are some other upcoming offerings, one live and two virtual:
How to Make Lasting Dietary Changes (virtual)
Wednesday, January 19, 7 p.m.
Dr. Leigh Ettinger will share insights into how to make lasting dietary changes based on an understanding of evolution, brain chemistry and goal-setting. Leave with a set of tools to help you plan and stick to a healthier eating pattern.
Lotus Lantern-Making Workshop (virtual)
Sunday, January 23, 4 p.m.
Learn how to make a lovely lotus flower lantern in this step-by-step class with a member of the Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project and watch a short documentary film about Korean culture. It’s for ages 10 and up, and there’s a $5 material fee per kit, to be picked up at the library.
SexSavvy Hudson Valley Presents: How to Talk to Your Kids About Sexuality (live)
February 16 & 23, March 2, 7:30 p.m.
This is a three-part series for parents/caregivers of children from birth to 12 years old, led by Elizabeth Greenblatt and Susanrachel Condon. Topics include values about sexuality, parent/caregiver roles and communication skills, healthy child sexual development, the different parts of sexuality and how they are connected to who we are. The fee is $35 for each workshop, $95 for the full series.
Live programs at the Kingston Library are currently in low-profile mode, but the members of its youth group keep cooking up cool things to do on their own, on a biweekly basis. Here’s a slightly macabre one coming up that really caught our attention:
Stuffed Animal Taxidermy
Thursday, January 27, 4 p.m.
You’re never too old to have fun with stuffed animals! Use unwanted furry friends to create upcycled art. Mount the heads (or bottoms) onto wooden plaques you paint and design. Not for the squeamish, or those who don’t have a sense of humor. The library will supply the materials.
Saugerties Public Library
Among other events, the Saugerties Library is still continuing its long-running monthly series of local history talks, with A.J. Schenkman on hand on Saturday, January 15 at noon to talk about his newest book, Patriots and Spies in Revolutionary New York. Here are two other live events coming up soon:
Wednesday, January 24, 4 p.m.
For kids and other fans of Dog Man, the comedic graphic novel series by Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame) about a dog-headed cop protecting the city with his friends. Come out for a fun time fighting villains, creating flip-o-ramas and celebrating a hero who drinks from a toilet bowl.
Film Chat: West Side Story (live)
Friday, January 28, 6 p.m.
Theater director Sydney Grosberg Ronga will lead the discussion following a screening of the original film version of West Side Story.
Starr Library, Rhinebeck
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? (live)
Saturdays beginning January 29, 11 a.m.
This is an ongoing series to be presented on the last Saturday of each month, for kids ages ten and up, along with their parents or guardians. These workshops will alternate between working with the exhibiting artist in the library and, the following month, learning about the career of a community member. Each Saturday will include an engaging hands-on activity. How do people know what they want to be when they grow up and what skills are needed? This is your opportunity to ask an adult any questions you like about a future career you may be curious about.
Note: The Starr Library is eager to hear from community members who’d like to do a presentation to this group about their career.