by Arrye Rosser, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Late winter is when complaints about Ohio’s weather shift from low rumbles to full crescendo. At any gathering, people tend to pile on about how much they hate this time of year. Not me. I look forward to it. With fewer commitments and distractions, I can devote longer stretches of time to cherished hobbies.

I am a quilter. Lately I’ve been pulling apart bags of fabric scraps and experimenting with various combinations. When I’m in this mood, I let the raw materials be my inspiration. Soft, tangled piles mound up all over the living room, providing my cats with novel sleeping opportunities. Beads, buttons, threads, charms, and yarns might get added. I capture each wisp of an idea by scribbling an annotated concept sketch before bagging it up for a future work session. I might improvise half a dozen projects in one session which will take me several years to execute. 

As I write, I am preparing for a getaway at Stanford House, ironically close to my national park office. Tucked outside the village of Boston, this stately Greek Revival farmhouse (circa 1843) provides lodging for up to 30 guests. Bookings are managed by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (reserve online or by calling 330-657-2909 ext. 130). 

A group of my friends rents a different place every few months for a long weekend of stitching and chatter. This is our winter destination. We divvy up the cooking duties, set up carloads of stuff, and work in comfy clothes or pajamas—surrounded by old fields and forested hillsides. 

I encourage you to carve out precious hours for whatever makes you feel most alive and find a like-minded tribe to turn this into a routine. The results can make your spirit sing.

Arrye Rosser is an interpretive and education specialist at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and co-curator of Crooked River Contrasts, a photo series on the past and present of the Cuyahoga River.

Photo at top: Our ringleader, quilt artist Wendy Lewis, at a previous Stanford House getaway. (Photo: NPS/Ted Toth.)

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