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What to do, what to do

April 17, 2020 by Beckie Gaskill

For a day or two, it would be easy to pretend it was just too cold, or too rainy, and we did not want to go anywhere or do anything. But, at some point, reality sets in. These are unprecedented times, but it is not the end of the world in any way. We have all been asked to avoid groups of people to help keep each other safe. There are many things about this of which I am not a proponent, but I should still make the best of it, and I think we all can.

I have seen on social media lately, a wealth of educational and fun learning opportunities for kids, no matter their interests. Just yesterday I received an email from Save the Frogs, an organization I admittedly know little about, other than the fact that they are amphibian conservationists. The email was letting me know they now have 21 courses, 121 lessons, 16 hours of video presentations, and 1,773 pages of downloadable amphibian education available on their website through the Save the Frogs Academy. All of these resources are free for the next 28 days. I have not had a chance to check it out yet, but I may grab a cup of tea later and see what I can learn about these critters.

Here is another fun website for those looking for some entertainment and learning at the same time: Zooniverse. There are many projects going on all the time at zooniverse.org. Here we get to take a look at each project to see what we might be interested in, and get involved, or just learn more about a given species. It can be a great way to spend some quiet time, some down time, learning and choosing projects we might want to get involved in for years to come. There are not only projects in climate and nature, but other learning venues as well, such as language, history, biology, arts, space and physics, just to name some of those listed on the website. I enjoy learning about new and different things, but I also love to see how other volunteers use their time and learn more about the things about which they are passionate. Zooniverse is a great place to spend some time.

CarbonTV is another site with fun things to watch. While it is dedicated somewhat to the hunter, others can find fun things to see there as well. There are many different cameras, such as the barn owl camera I am watching while writing this column. We cannot always view the species we are interested in, but Live Cams, such as those hosted at CarbonTV allow us a glimpse into the lives of some of our furry, feathered, or finned friends. So, for another fun way to spend some screen time, there is that, and several other, websites. 

Of course, those of us who love the outdoors anyway, find no shortage of things to do. It is not quite planting time yet, but I have my seedlings started indoors, as I am sure many of you do. As the snow subsides, we can go out and see where we want to plant what, make maps and diagrams, and just get ready for another great season in general.

Many of my friends have posted photos and videos of hikes they have been on recently. I have yet to get out, so I am a bit jealous of their experiences thus far, but I know my time is coming and I cannot wait to get back out in the woods. I am not much of a winter enthusiast, as most know, but I have been known to snowshoe here and there and I have done a little cross country skiing in my days. 

For me, the real fun begins about this time of year. And, really, I suppose my activities, other than tournament fishing, rarely involve groups of 10 or more anyway. Hiking, gardening, biking, rock collecting, and even stream fishing are things I normally do alone or with one other person, perhaps. I would like to get more into kayaking this year, too, which I have been saying for several years now, but have not had the opportunity to undertake. All of those things can also be done as a family. I think that is one of the best things about the outdoors — the ability to get away just with the people who mean the most to you, and to enjoy the world around us. While this can be a scary or nervous time for some, I would tend to think immersing ourselves in nature’s calm could only help the situation, and help us to relax and remember the things that are truly important.

I wish you all to be well and to enjoy the outdoors for years to come.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached at [email protected]m or [email protected]

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