Some people frequent clubs and bars
Some people like bowling alleys and pizza joints
Then there are the outdoor people, the people who cannot be caged by buildings, concrete, or bouncers.
I like to consider myself a versatile mix of all 3. I’ve walked into city bars and clubs joking around, bowled in the suburbs, and wandered the country fishing and hunting. All have their merits, but nothing compares to the instinctual draw of a whistling wind or a dancing butterfly.
There is freedom in walking away from modernity to enjoy the simple pleasures that our ancestors knew. A calling to ways that sustain deeper connections to the land than what technocracy has to offer.
Those who know how to catch their own food can survive even without good weather. They also look out for each other. They were practicing friendly social distancing out of respect for the process long before COVID-19 required it of us.
Since becoming a mother and getting my own little piece of land I don’t find enjoyments in city night life. Sometimes a silly night of bowling or skating is nice, but I would much rather hike or fish than spend my time doing anything else. It’s not for everyone, but I appreciate the age old lessons that sit on the ripples of a pond, that splash in the lakes. I revel in the trees and the creatures that grace me and my family on these excursions.
Outdoor exercise in secluded areas is a great way to keep one’s mental, physical and spiritual health balanced during these times.
There may be more people seeking out local, state, and national parks due to limiting, but even so there is plenty of space for everyone.
Over the weekend the family and I packed up the kids (something they’re accustomed too) and hit a nature reserve for some fishing. It was a stormy day but I could sense a shift in the air that gave us a window of opportunity that would thin out other visitors.
When I was little my dad made me get up at 4am to go fishing. He swore the fish bit better at first light. I learned to get used to the cold.
Talking was also forbidden. It would, “Scare away the fish.”
I rarely caught anything on these trips.
As I got older and went out on my own I found myself getting better catches on sunny afternoons while talking and laughing with others.
Fish don’t have ears.
Not that we can see. They have hearing organs that pick up some underwater vibrations, but talking doesn’t disrupt that.
The early fish care the same about the worm as the late ones.
You don’t have to be a crazy morning person to go out and try and snag something or, “drown a worm,” as we joke when the kids don’t catch anything. (Poor wormies)
So, yeah enjoying fishing with my kids is completely different than what I grew up with. On this recent trip, the weather started rough. The winds struck hard. The lines loosened and our patience was tested.
We moved onto a smaller pond, the sun broke through the clouds, and the gusts died down. Warmed with hope we trudged through mud and reeds. My middle child-an avid lover of toads and frogs-found a small little hopper that entertained us for a time.
There was no rush, no worry about keeping time.
We eventually walked to a nice fishing spot on a solid bank and my husband and I got the lines cast out while the kids chased after more wildlife. My eldest caught a good sized toad who croaked loud and strong which made my toad nut the happiest kid on the planet.
Then my toddler decided he wanted to hold the little pole. He held it for just a few minutes before he got a hold of a fish and we reeled it in.
Most of the fish in these smaller ponds better serve as natural fertilizer for vegetable gardens. It’s an old Native American trick that helps corn grow even in tough soil. We kept at it but my son was the only one to catch anything, getting a second and showing us all up less than 2 years old (sure, I helped, but he’s a natural).
Plenty of other fishers came along during our span there. We joked about the toddler being the only one to catch anything and exchanged pleasantries from a distance, but it wasn’t out of place. It was the same kind of interaction I always have when out among the wild.
It’s a different world. A different life. One that connects us to the past and hopefully links us to a more balanced/brighter future.
After 3 hours of walking, talking, laughing, exploring, and enjoying the stillness of nature, my husband and I returned home with the kids, tired and appreciative. I’m grateful for this opportunity. Our lives have not changed very much. There are some shifts, but for the most part it’s just a little further apart from our neighbors and friends, nothing too out of the ordinary.
For anyone living in a more condensed city, I recommend taking a day trip to a large nature reserve with plenty of space to spread out and explore.
The suburbs offer closer options but it’s still a good idea to choose a larger area with plenty of trails or ponds.
The rural areas are less hit with the new changes, yet still, there are always new areas to find, new people to smile at from a distance.
Distance is a strange concept right now. No matter how far apart we are, I’m finding people to be more polite than ever. We miss each other, those closer interactions with larger groups, and that’s giving us a stronger perspective on caring for our fellow humans.
I have always found solace in the woods, comfort among fresh water. It’s a peaceful atmosphere. Meditative. Contemplative and fun for all ages, but it’s not the same when you can’t share it with others. Even if from a distance.
There is nothing better for one’s health than fresh air, sunshine, and a friendly smile.