Southern Indiana: Discover and Enjoy Winter’s Bounty

By Kathy Jonas | November 28, 2015
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Winter hikes in brown county

Southern Indiana does not lie dormant when the leaves fall from the trees. The winter months are abundant with natural, cultural and culinary possibilities to coax you off the couch and heighten your senses. Experience the intoxicating aroma of homemade candy canes being individually crafted at the Martinsville Candy Kitchen or hear the high-pitched whistle of an eagle as it swoops across a frozen Lake Monroe.

While huddling with a blanket or a book might be tempting during the cold winter months, invest in some warm gloves and go outside!

Brown County

One of the top fall destinations in the country tends to get a bit quiet when the tourism season ends. But, the breathtaking stillness of the hills and woods—170,000 acres of forested land—affords an opportunity to view nature up close.

The Winter Wellness Weekend January 15–17 celebrates all things Brown County, including a yoga retreat, winter hikes in Brown County State Park and the Frosty Trails 5 Mile.

“We know when we are well because we are happy and vital,” says Lee Edgren, owner of River Light Yoga, who organizes the retreat part of the weekend, called Warm Up from Within, at the Abe Martin Lodge in Brown County State Park in Nashville.

“It is a mind/body/spiritual exploration that absorbs the senses, moves the body and opens the creative spirit. There’s silence as well as activity, time to share and explore and time to be alone,” she says.

A certified yoga instructor with a wellness management degree, Edgren says yoga, poetry, art and tai chi will be a few areas explored.

In addition to the retreat, the park plans two self-guided hikes at 9am on Saturday, January 16. One is 3.5 miles along the south loop and the breathtaking Hohen point, and the second is 2.75 miles through Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve. The Frosty Trails five-mile run (or walk) will get the blood flowing at 10:30am.

For more information, contact the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau at BrownCounty.com or 800.753.3255.

Monroe County

Best known as the cultural hub of Southern Indiana with Bloomington and Indiana University at its core, Monroe County is also a nature lover’s paradise. Speedboats might populate the 10,000-acre Lake Monroe in the summer months but come winter, wildlife takes center stage. There are more than a few cultural offerings, too.

For 16 years, eagle enthusiasts have been coming to the Fourwinds Resort & Marina on Lake Monroe to spot an eagle during the annual Eagle Watch Weekend. The 2016 event is scheduled January 29 through 31. Last year, there were 30 to 40 sightings and everyone left having reported seeing at least one eagle. Experts head out with scopes to give participants a close-up view.

For more information, go to EaglesAtLakeMonroe.com.

Speaking of eagles, David Rupp, naturalist and owner of Indigo Birding Nature Tours, will lead a tour focusing on the bald eagles that winter on the lake and the resurgence in the eagle population from 1 to 4pm on two Saturdays: December 12 and January 23. Binoculars, spotting scopes and refreshments are provided as participants stop at various points.

Rupp, who worked as a naturalist at Eagle Creek Park and Southeastway Park (both in Indianapolis), customizes each tour to the particular group he’s taking out.

“Once people get a little bit of exposure to birding, they get really excited,” he says.

Contact Rupp at IndigoBirding.com.

Maple syrup is the focus at the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead the last Saturday of January, February and March. This Bloomington farm and museum, located at 2920 E. 10th St., is open to the public January 30, February 27 and March 26. It is on that last Saturday in February when the first bottle of syrup is produced. The farmstead serves maple tea made from fresh maple sap, and maple-flavored baked goods.

For more details, go to BloomingtonRestorations.org.

Make some winter mischief of your own at the Maurice Sendak “Wild Things” exhibit at the Monroe County Public Library from February 12 through March 29. The exhibit will highlight 50 Sendak works of art with 50 heartfelt words from 50 extraordinary people, from former President Bill Clinton to TV personality Meredith Vieira. This is a chance to view the classic story in lithographs, sculptures and even a Rolling Stone magazine cover.

For more information, go to Monroe.Lib.In.us or call 812.349.3050.

Morgan County

This county located between Indianapolis and Bloomington is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It has plenty of natural beauty within the Morgan-Monroe State Forest and is home to artisans, farmers and antique lovers.

Every Saturday beginning November 1, the Martinsville Candy Kitchen is a favorite stop for children of all ages. John Badger and his family can be found twisting candy canes in much the same way they have been shaped for 100 years. Badger likes talking about the history of the place while he works, as the muscles in his hands and arms operate automatically.

“I can do this in my sleep,” he says, noting the most candy canes they have ever made in one season tops 38,000.

Much of the equipment, including the marble slab where the mixture is formed, the hook where the candy is twisted and the machine that perforates the dough into hard candy, is original. And, like snowflakes, each candy cane turns out differently.

“As a child, we always went to the Candy Kitchen as a special treat, and I have chosen to continue the tradition with my family,” says Stephanie Wesseler, who was in the shop one Saturday with her husband and children. She’s also a teacher and has taken her students there.

If you’re very lucky, you might get the last candy cane of the batch.

For more Morgan County winter activities, go to VisitMorganCountyIN.com.

Article from Edible Indy at http://edibleindy.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/southern-indiana-discover-and-enjoy-winter-s-bounty
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