Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
No doubt, these are unprecedented times. One would think that with our advanced technology and vast amounts of information, we could solve any problem with ease. Evidently, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this current pandemic. Of course, there still might be a few who consider this virus spread to be part of some great conspiracy, but, fortunately, the vast majority of people are getting the message…minus the invincible kids on spring break. The initial reaction to a situation like this is to panic. That’s a logical response. Being dumped into a kettle of the unknown can be disconcerting. The quicker you get control, the better off you will be. There is a fine line between being prudent, running scared, and acting stupidly. The prudent see danger and take cover; running scared or being a simpleton aren’t good alternatives. Evidently, the solution to protecting yourself and ending this pandemic is simple. Isolate yourself from groups of people, maintain a safe distance from individuals, and wash your hands a lot. Unfortunately, that only works if everyone follows the rules. The responses by the federal, state, and local governments reflect the seriousness of this event. That should be motivation for everyone to do their part.
Since we are a gregarious species, isolating ourselves from people isn’t the normal way we do things. That’s what makes avoiding people challenging. Most people are programmed to frequent malls, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, sporting events, churches, and other places that draw a crowd. The outdoorsman, on the other hand, has been known to be a loner. He or she doesn’t always need companionship to enjoy the outdoors. I consider myself an outdoorsman, but being an old goat on top of that is even better. I remember the days when imagination, innovation, and creativity provided all the entertainment needed. I’m not sure if today’s generation could function that way with social and electronic media controlling their lives, or should they, for that matter.
I am comfortable staying inside, especially when I’m not running on all cylinders. I’m sure being outside is probably healthier. This weekend, for example, the first catfish tournament of the year was scheduled and then cancelled. I understand that the ODNR pulled tournament permits until the end of April to follow the governor’s grouping protocol. I would think that fishing out in a boat would make social distancing a snap. The concern was the collection of people at the weigh-in. Regardless, although the tournament has been cancelled, there’s no reason why a fisherman can’t still catch catfish. With temperatures only getting into the upper 30s, I wouldn’t have fished the tournament anyway, but there are die-hards who would and probably will have some sort of contest going on. Being an ancient, I remember the times before organized kid’s baseball. Groups gathered anywhere there was a space, a bat, and a ball. Numbers of participants didn’t matter and everyone played. When I was younger, I was one of the better deep outfielders at the play park. I don’t know how people think today, but it seems to me pick-up tournaments could become more common in the short term. In reality, if some fishermen are compelled to fish competitively, a fishing contest can be held anywhere there are at least two fishermen and a wager.
Many people are suddenly finding themselves working at home or without a job. That’s a scary situation, and rightly so. Under those conditions, survival depends on establishing a routine and a creating positive attitude. What better time to start that exercise program you’ve been avoiding. Social distancing is easy, and being outside provides a healthy, safe environment. Outdoorsmen have a real advantage since that’s what we do, spend time outdoors. If what the scientists say is true, there is no way I’m going to catch this virus while sitting in my boat or taking a hike in the woods. Having nothing but spare time, I’m currently doing tasks I should have done a long time ago. It’s time to put new line on the reels, sort out and dump old fishing tackle, and clean out the 20 year-old breadcrumbs from a couple of my favorite shotguns. As the weather begins to warm, I’ll be looking for a fish dinner or two. The competition might be heavier because people have more spare time, but that’s okay. The fish are getting ready to bite as soon as the weather settles down, fishermen have access to a quality food source, and gasoline prices are cheap. All good news. As far as this other mess, do your part, protect yourself and the people around you, and keep the faith. This, too, shall pass.