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If your butterfly doesn't flutter, or your crawl has slowed to a stop, you can refresh your swimming skills with classes at the Upper East Side fitness center Asphalt Green, a not-for-profit that dedicates itself to helping New Yorkers achieve better health through athletics. Swim courses are designed for both beginning and advanced students, and those bored with the backstroke or butterfly can take up instruction in lifeguard training, water pop, or scuba.


Staten Island's Blue Heron Park and Nature Center boasts 222 rather damp acres with trails that weave in and out of wetland ponds, swamps, and streams and feature ample flora and fauna. But it also provides instruction in how to enjoy some of that nature in the privacy of your New York home. Fall workshops include instruction in building a bird feeder, crafting herbal holiday decorations, and that infrequent urban pastime, owl-spotting.

The New York Botanical Garden spreads itself over 250 acres in the Bronx, and boasts more than one million plants. Your green space—if you're lucky enough to have one—is likely smaller, but the NYBG offers classes for a plot of any size. Featured winter courses include "Fundamentals of Gardening," "Organic Gardening," and "Herbs, Herb Gardens, and Herbalism." If you lack outdoor space entirely, you might take "Creating an Indoor Garden."


If your resolutions for the New Year include learning to snap better pictures, you might enroll in the International Center for Photography's January workshops, which cover topics such as "Photography I: Digital," "Photography II: Digital," "Adobe Lightroom for Beginners," and "Digital Imaging." Just imagine the marvelous photos you'll take at next year's New Year's soiree.

A few years ago, Polaroid stopped producing cameras and film. With the rise of digital photography, who has a couple minutes to wait around for a picture to develop? And dropping off film at a one-hour photo kiosk—well, that takes forever! But even those with tremendously busy schedules may want to improve their pictorial skills. In November, the New School promises that it can teach you to make the most of your digital camera. The class is divided between shooting in the field and working with images on the computer.


Many a New York homeowner longs to engage in some remodeling work. (We have friends who can spend hours dreaming of ceiling medallions.) For our fellow fantasists, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum National Design Museum hosts a lecture-demonstration with Ingrid Abramovitch, author of the recent tome, Restoring a House in the City, who will present a slideshow of successful renovations and offer instruction on "renovating or decorating any older apartment or home." New grouting, here we come!

New-York Historical Society, our city's oldest museum and research library (and the possessor of a cool retro hyphen), usually concerns itself with Gotham's past, but it has instituted a new series of lectures and discussion series concerning the city's future. Upcoming talks feature "The Future of New York," "America's Future, America's Constitution," and "The Future of the USA." Participants include Michael Goodwin, George Pataki, and Dr. Richard Haass.

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