Life with a Smile

Published 11:48 am Sunday, June 28, 2020

Call of the (somewhat) wild


In reading the collective advice of health care professionals worldwide regarding staying safe during COVID-19, one thing seems pretty clear: outdoors is better than indoors. 

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Thus, with many indoor spaces closed – or open but terrifying – 2020 is the summer of the great outdoors. This is the year for hiking, camping, and enjoying nature. Existentially, I’m totally on board with this plan. Practically-speaking, there is just one small problem.

We’re not a very outdoorsy family.

I like the idea of being outside. I romanticize visions of roughing it in a tent or striding through the woods. However, the reality generally fails to bring joy to my heart. The reality is sweaty and shockingly full of mosquitoes. There is also far more whining in reality than in my imagination.

We’re trying, though. Really we are. 

Case in point: we set up our brand-new tent in the backyard. The idea was for the kids to “camp” one night as a prelude to an actual camping trip. After dragging the entire household supply of bedding outside, they played for several happy hours, popping in and out of the house for flashlights, card games, and bug spray. 

Once the sun set, however, the ground suddenly became much harder and our fenced backyard revealed itself to be a terrifying jungle housing untold numbers of savage beasts. 

They slept in my bed instead.

Fine, camping might be difficult anyway, given that my desire to share a bathhouse or port-a-potty with strangers is nil at the moment. Once upon a time, I had mastered the art of the squat pee. You don’t live in India for a year without picking up a few tricks. But I’m rusty at best and somehow I never got around to teaching this valuable life skill to my girls. 

OK, no problem. We’ll tromp in the woods, rather than sleep in them. 

Except that even a moderate walk through the neighborhood with the dog is sure to provoke complaints of boredom, tired legs, and impending heat stroke. 

We headed to Shaker Village last weekend, intent on wandering in the creek on a sunny afternoon. My partner is a biologist with a specialty in aquatic insects, so he’s a fantastic person to bring along for a creek walk. 

Or so I thought. What some members of the expedition found to be a fascinating introduction to the stream ecosystem, other members found to be a traumatizing barrage of heretofore unknown creepy crawlies that were lurking under the surface on the water, waiting to attack. 

I am undeterred. Mother Nature hasn’t seen the last of this family! 

We did manage a successful jaunt to Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, which is one of the great hidden treasures of Central Kentucky. Their social distancing protocols pretty much mean you have the park to yourself during your visit, which makes an already-cool place feel downright magical. 

We’re also planning to try our luck on the lake, with a canoeing lesson in the works in the near future. I see many ways that this could go wrong, but I remain optimistic. We are intrepid explorers. 

Sort of.