This COVID-19 pandemic is freaking scary. People are dying from it every day. I can barely look at social media or watch/read the news. it’s so depressing, scary and sad. The hardest part for me so far is not being able to see my grown daughters in person. The other hardest part is not being able to go out and do some of the things I love. Neither are dire or life-threatening, just a challenge. I’m not complaining (well I’m a little pissed off about this whole thing) but I am coming up with game plans to help me stay sane in case of a complete lock down where I am not able to leave the homestead. But in the mean time, here is a reminder that even though many things are closed, the majority of parks (in Ohio at least) are still open (unless you are in an area that is not allowed non-essential travel).
Now I feel like I have to make a disclaimer, you have to use common sense and realize they don’t know everything there is about this virus so I suggest visiting parks that aren’t heavily visited and taking every precaution especially when using public facilities as restrooms. This virus lives on surfaces for a long time. I try not to use any of the public facilities and if a park is pretty much vacant, there’s always the woods. Hey, it’s what long distance hikers/backpackers do, they don’t have port-a-potties along the Appalachian Trail every few miles. I can’t promise that you won’t come in contact with this shitty virus at a park facility. Don’t touch things that others might have like fences, benches, picnic tables and so on. Like I said, just assume the f’ing virus is on every surface. Look but don’t touch. If you have children, I’d definitely avoid any playgrounds or play equipment.
In Ohio, there are numerous nature preserves that are hardly ever visited. Do some research in your area to find the lesser visited natural areas. Many parks are closing their facilities like rest rooms in response to the pandemic so check their website and/or call ahead. You may have to plan around the lack of bathrooms open, etc. Pack snacks and water. Just think ahead especially if you have kids. But even if a park is more visited, usually the trails are wide enough that you can give each other plenty of room. I’ve found the times I’ve been out in parks, they are fairly deserted compared to normal and those out are very polite giving room where needed.
Taking a short car ride to a natural area can help with cabin fever. Spending time outside in nature has a stress-relieving effect. Take time to breathe in the fresh air, notice the plants and trees around you. If you’re quiet, you may see some interesting wildlife. Also, this gives you a sense of normalcy in a time that is nothing near normal for most of us. Focusing on your surroundings allows you mindful moments where you can forget about all that is going on around us. Right now, spring wildflowers are starting to bloom as the days are getting longer and warmer. Brush off those guidebooks and take them with you, maybe you’ll discover a rare plant.
If you are in an area that the weather is cooperating and you own your home, there is usually plenty of yard projects you can get into. Trimming bushes, pruning plants, cleaning flower beds and so on. Depending on what restrictions are happening in your area, you may be able to fertilize and/or reseed your lawn if you are comfortable going to the home store to buy the supplies. Right now, it’s cold and rainy without much relief in site for my area for the next week, but I have gear for the weather, I may be out walking in the rain.
Unless prohibited if we go on lock down, I’m going to be walking my dog for miles and miles on our country roads. There are several old cemeteries that I can stop and visit which may sound creepy, but trust me, I’m not going to run across a living human there. I can take a sketch book and my charcoals to sketch the surrounding farm land. Or take my camera and challenge myself to find new shots right around my yard or the surrounding area. It wouldn’t hurt for my photography skills to look at subjects in a different way. This will force me to become more creative and maybe even figure out some of those little-used features on my DSLR.
No one knows how long this may last but the one blessing is that better weather is coming soon. It will be time to resurrect the hammock and patio furniture. Get out the fire ring and spend some evenings around a fire. Pull a blanket out as a I did as a kid and read on a makeshift outdoor bed. I had thought about buying a stand-alone basketball hoop for my driveway and a basketball a few months ago and I’m wishing I had done that earlier before all of this. In a way, it reminds me of when you were a kid and you had to entertain yourself on summer vacation. Well, if you were a child of the 1970’s or 80’s, we had to entertain ourselves in the summer after our parents shoved us out the door and told us don’t come back until dinner.
As I write this, I am seeing news stories about the first COVID-19 deaths in Ohio. This shit is scary. My heart breaks for the loved ones of these people as well as the loss of their lives. I’m so angry at all of this. I don’t know why it is happening or could it had been stopped, but it just pisses me off. But it is out of my control and at some point it will pass like everything else. Though the aftermath is already changing people’s lives, their family dynamics forever. It seems like in 2020, this shouldn’t happen but here it is, bearing down on us like the grim reaper.
This shows you that you never know what could happen in life, no matter how well you prepare, no matter the best laid plans, life as we know it can come to a screeching halt. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or in a month, but I plan on taking it day by day, hour by hour. I’m going to self-quarantine as much as I can even though it totally sucks. I’m cancelling my spring break trip to Kentucky with my daughter which was happening over Easter weekend. Hell, we might not even be able to get together for Easter. It’s so hard to tell. But if we can’t, we can’t. It’s a small price to pay if it means someone will not die from the virus.
In the meantime, I will get outside, get into nature and of course, keep a lot of social distance by using the resources that are seldom visited or just in my own yard or neighborhood. Stay healthy and safe. We will get through this together.