Uniting the Harmony area with a culture on the other side of the world, “Jottings from Japan” became a favorite column of area residents for many years. These columns told of the adventure of teaching at international schools – Cindy at the Sacred Heart and Doug at Saint Mary’s, which allowed this couple a unique understanding of the Japanese people and culture. After teaching in Tokyo, Japan, for 25 years, Cindy and Doug Ofstedal returned to Fillmore County.
Although their ownership of the airbnb called “Asahi Loft” consumes a great deal of their time and attention, the Ofstedals are involved in many local organizations and try to spend as much time with family and friends as possible. “We feel fortunate to have four grandchildren; Evelyn and Nina live in Tokyo and Kira and Ean live in Monterey, Calif., but COVID and distance makes the opportunity to gather “Together in Harmony 2021” even sweeter,” comments Cindy. The entire family wore custom made t-shirts with this phrase during the 2021 4th of July weekend.
When asked about what it means being an active senior member of the Harmony community, Cindy mused, “Oh my gosh, I am being interviewed as a senior citizen! When did that happen? But, I always quote a dear friend who says, ‘Enjoy growing old, it is something denied to many’, so as I turn 70 this year I am so thankful for my health.”
There are many reasons Cindy Ofstedal was chosen to represent Active Seniors. She is not only proud of Fillmore County, but she’s engaged in many activities. “My husband Doug and I try to never miss the wonderful Senior Stretch class taught by Sandy Tammel, every Tuesday and Thursday morning,” says Cindy. “We are actually two of the youngest members of the class, which might account for our success in ‘keeping up’ since Marilyn and Elmo set a high bar for the rest of us. The class is held at the Harmony Community Center (or as Doug says, the Elementary School) and everyone is welcome.”
Another of Cindy’s weekly activities is Mahjong, a Chinese game which uses tiles. “We have some good laughs, trying to remember the rules,” she remarks. Cindy has always been a reader and praises the SELCO library system for allowing access to such a large number of books. Even during the height of the pandemic, SELCO continued to supply a much needed distraction and stimulation for Seniors.
Being an innkeeper for Asahi Loft keeps her active in the Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is vital that we keep Harmony a vibrant, 12-month community,” says Cindy. “I enjoy volunteering at the visitors center and promoting Harmony through social media. Small towns struggle to stay open and it is more important than ever to support our local businesses. I would like to salute Betty Dowe and the Golden Happenings group for awakening Harmony to all that a community can offer to senior citizens.”
Signs of a thriving community is the presence of young families moving in to raise their children in the smaller town. “I am also thrilled with the number of kids’ bikes, trampolines and general ‘toys’ that have appeared in our neighborhoods in the last 10 years.”
Cindy concludes, “Some people know me for the eccentric lady on the e-bike who has a shopping basket on the back. Getting out on the bike trail is wonderful, but just riding uptown to get groceries and do errands gives me joy.” Finding joy in daily routines is a common denominator for active seniors among Fillmore County readers.
A poem which is a favorite of Cindy’s follows.
“Break the mirror”
by Nanao Sakaki
In the morning
After taking cold shower
– what a mistake –
I look at the mirror.
There, a funny guy,
Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,
—- what a pity —-
Poor, dirty, old man,
He is not me, absolutely not.
Land and life
Fishing in the ocean
Sleeping in the desert with stars
Building a shelter in the
Farming the ancient way
Singing with coyotes
Singing against nuclear war —
I’ll never be tired of life.
Now I’m seventeen years old,
Very charming young man.
I sit quietly in lotus position,
Meditating, meditating for
Suddenly a voice comes to me:
“To stay young,
To save the world,
Break the mirror.”