In the Open: Pandemic Edition

For starters, how about a big shout out to all those hard-working, unappreciated, reliable workers who just keep doing what they do – making the country work. It turns out we can’t go on without you. If nothing else, we learned that sports stars and celebrities aren’t really all that important, but we can’t live without people building and making things, farmers, truckers, and retail workers.

Thanks to those who keep us fed and the people who support them; those who keep the lights on, water running, trash collected, information flowing; teachers who tutor “their” kids remotely or make sure they continue to get fed, and people who keep us all safe. Healthcare workers are on the front lines of this war and deserve our utmost gratitude.

There are too many categories to list, just leave it to suffice that crises bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others – if you made life better for your neighbors, then kudos to you. 

In the past week and a half our world has dramatically changed, kids are home from school, probably until the end of the year, and many people are home from work – presumably in their toilet paper fortresses. 

A new term has even entered our lexicon: social distancing. Social distancing is pretty much what it sounds like; avoiding groups of people or contact with other people, keeping some distance away from other others (the current expectation is six feet), in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Fortunately, for those who love the outdoors, a lot of outdoor-related activities are perfectly suited for social distancing. Many establishments like restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other places for recreation are closed, but the Great Outdoors? Well, that’s open for business. Your weekend plans need not be confined within walls. A lot of state-operated facilities are closed, but many of the outdoor areas remain accessible. 

Fishing and hunting are two activities that spring to mind; if you love to fish or love to hunt, there’s no reason you can’t continue to do that. Bird watching, spring woodland wildflower walks, hikes, and sight-seeing are all possible to do while keeping your distance from others at the same time. I even saw on Facebook today that some youngsters were taking advantage of a pleasant first day of Spring by getting outside and flying a kite. What a perfect activity for kids, pandemic or not! Learning doesn’t only take place indoors. The Meigs SWCD Conservation Area is open for hiking and birdwatching and the like; it’s literally an outdoor classroom.

I personally have a lot of things that need done around the hacienda and the garage, so there’s no shortage of activities for me if I stay healthy. There are always chores that need doing, and if this goes on long enough it could even go into lawn-mowing season.

Some outdoor activities might take a little more planning to comply with social distancing, but I imagine that bicycling and kayaking could be easily accomplished. Obviously if you are sick, please do the rest of us a favor and stay at home. 

One thing I am sure of, is that this will pass, and things will get back to normal – or something that passes for a new normal. Hopefully it makes us better people instead of exposing substantial character flaws. So, stay home or stay away from other people, spend some time with your kids and your dog as long as you are healthy, and above all be good to each other.

Jim Freeman is a conservation technician for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted during non-pandemic weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at jim.freeman@oh.nacdnet.net