The original assignment was simple: Do a roundup of ways adults can zap the winter blues by keeping active, inside or out.

"OK" I typed back to the editor. Easy-peasy. I'd be finished in time for the new season of "The Bachelor."

I rolled over on my couch to grab more leftovers from my friend Jenn's crazy Christmas cookie swap.


Another e-mail from the editor.

"There's a change. We'd like you to do all the adventures."

Um, what?

What was I thinking?

With the deadline ticking, I started my adventures by heading to Winter Skate at Patriot Place, a seasonal pop-up outdoor rink near Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.


I rented skates, surprisingly comfy, from Bob Hanson, the venue manager. Laced up, I wobbled over to the rink as a Zamboni exited, leaving a trail of shiny ice.

Stepping onto the rink, I wondered, when did I last skate?

In my head, I was Nancy Kerrigan, spinning, jumping, and gliding with incredible grace. My right hand cramped from gripping the rink's wall. I hoped my gritted teeth resembled a smile.

I met Brett Buchheister, 31, and his girlfriend, Heidi Tripoline, from Plainville, celebrating her 26th birthday.

Heidi told me it was her first time skating. "Ever."

Then the couple glided around the rink, hand-in-hand. Heidi skated like Nancy Kerrigan.

Pouting, I left the rink to try the nearby 5 Wits , where my mission would be to "Save the World!"

Manager Will Hartnell told me that 5 Wits at Patriot Place, popular with families, has kid-free "adult adventure" nights, Thursdays through Saturday, after 5:30.

My inner child could either battle a giant squid from inside a Victorian submarine in "20,000 Leagues" or play spy in "Espionage" and save the world from an evil corporation.

The special effects for each interactive adventure were so real it was like being live inside a video game. Unnerving.


Needing calm, I popped into a "gentle yoga" class one Saturday morning at the Saugus YMCA.

The teacher, Mimi Izzo, from Wakefield, a small, lithe woman with a graying ponytail, began with a meditation, telling us to observe change in our lives, in the season, and in our bodies. For one hour, she led 20 adults through various positions: stretching, bending, breathing, and twisting.

I've done much harder yoga, my mind chattered. But leaving, I noticed I stood taller. My mind was calmer. Hmmm . . . I mean, ommmm . . .

I felt ready to saddle up my fears for the new year.

Riding a horse was something I had done once, when I was single (read: young and thin).

I headed to Twisdenwood Farm in Georgetown, where I met my instructor, Andrea Whipple. My mount for the lesson was a sturdy brown-and-white horse nicknamed Dozer, short for Bulldozer.

The three of us walked to an indoor arena where the ground was covered with a thick layer of sand, like a Caribbean beach. Exactly where I'd prefer to be.

It took a while, but I got onto Dozer's back.

Slowly, Whipple walked the mild-mannered Dozer and me around the barn while holding the reins. Before I knew it, she had me leaning forward with my bottom off the saddle, "like a jockey," she said.

Can't I be a young Elizabeth Taylor riding in "National Velvet?"


The vision gave me confidence.

So much so, Whipple suggested we try trotting. It felt like galloping. How can Whipple keep up, I wondered, as I grabbed Dozer's mane for dear life?

Lesson over, I dismounted, a slow, ungraceful slide off Dozer's back, like a fallen souffle.

Wrapping up my DIY quest, I planned a winter walk on a section of the new Bay Circuit Trail in Concord.

My husband suggested a loop around Walden Pond, which passes Henry David Thoreau's cabin site. But we opted for another section that links to the Old Manse and includes the North Bridge, part of Minute Man National Historic Park.

Despite a bitterly cold day, we met some amazing characters, all drawn to history and nature.

Among them were Chris Le Blond, 63, and her husband, Paul, 67, a couple from the United Kingdom who were visiting their daughter's family in Harvard.

"We wanted to see where you Colonials decided to leave the Mother Country," Paul said dryly as he held Ruby, their daughter's fluffy golden retriever puppy.

Nearby, Kevin Kavanagh of Maynard, an enthusiastic National Park Service ranger, was deep in conversation with two history buffs from Culpepper, Va. Jim Foley does historical reenactments back home and had traveled north with his friend Ron Sanders.

I explained my mission to Kavanagh. He recommended we also walk the 5-mile Battle Road Trail, which dates to the battle of April 19, 1775, which launched the American Revolution.


But we're frozen, I whined. And hungry.

Instead, we followed the Bay Circuit Trail to the sidewalks of downtown Concord, where we explored another landmark: Helen's Restaurant.

We had come to the end of the trail, and really earned this one. It was a different kind of workout, where the exercise consisted of lifting our hands to our mouths. Here, we agreed, we found the perfect antidote to beating the winter blues: a warm slice of Helen's homemade blueberry pie.

Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at kathy@kathyshielstully.com.