Category Archives: adventure

Time

Colorful autumn trees.

I set goals. Every year I try to lay out a three year plan. It’s a little obsessive, but it keeps things moving and gives me a North Star for navigation in decision making. Every month, I re-evaluate them. And quarterly, I do a brain dump to see if what I’m thinking about now squares with where I wanted to go. I tried to do my monthly review at the beginning of the month and the associated brain dump and…it all stopped.

I looked at the different categories and some of them are just…meaningless in our current climate. So many things either don’t matter anymore or are not achievable that I have to toss out major chunks of The Plan.

Now look, I already did that when we made a massive move to another state during a global pandemic. But even the last bits of lattice I had from The Plan in the Before Times is now gone.

My wife and I walked the dogs at the park Sunday. It was quiet and beautiful. The trees are lit up in colors and the dogs got good and tired. I felt much calmer after that (and before the puppy threw up in the car on the way home). It occurs to me that I need to give more room to the recreational. Maybe what I need are goals around things that aren’t capitalized in “Plans.”

I’m starting to see that we’re not going back.

Hiking in Fall

A park infographic describing the Power of Pollinators.

I went on a glorious hike with the Scouts on Saturday. My son got out with a crew that he seems to enjoy spending time with as he is slowly able to stretch out and tries to make new friends in a new place that we’ve been living in for over 6 months. And I got to walk with a dear, old friend. Hiking with this gentleman is nothing new. We’re older now and perhaps a touch slower, but it was fun.

I took no pictures but the one on top of this entry. It was far too nice a day and the hike was far too enjoyable to burst any bubbles with getting out a phone and tapping out pictures for a blog that I’m rather spotty about updating. Or for any other reason. It’s important to forget the tech and bask in the trees whenever possible. The world is more beautiful when not viewed through a camera’s lens.

I’m not sure how many sunny days there will be for the remainder of the year, but I don’t mind hiking under the lead grey skies of NE Ohio. In fact, I rather enjoy hiking in the snow.

Finding Rhythms

An island on still water shot from a boat

I got to the reservoir at about 7:30 AM on Saturday. The water was glassy. There was no wind. But there were plenty of trucks and cars parked in the lot. The people at the park were predominantly men. That’s about as far as one could go when describing them. It looked like a random sample of men who live in Ohio.

Some of the trucks were badly beaten and old. Some were brand new SUVs. The boats were a mix of cheap kayaks, grandparent garage canoes, beaten row boats, and highly rigged bass boats with new electric motors. The rods were everything from improvised garage sale finds to some very high end carbon fiber setups from Orvis. And here we were at the reservoir. A body of water that is an equalizer in the way that only a park can be.

There were a few groups of two men – never more than two – standing and sipping coffee from paper cups or mugs while slowly dragging on cigarettes in the silence of the morning. No one spoke above what was necessary to communicate with their fishing buddy. I slipped into the water and wondered if anyone else was seeing what I saw.

No one can travel safely in the USA right now. A significant percentage of people wouldn’t have the means even if they could. So we gather what we have at hand and come to the water. We push off, paddle, and cast. I’m not sure that anyone who was on that reservoir at 7 or 8 AM on a Saturday even cared if a fish bit. I know I didn’t. It was the practice and the silence that brought us there.

It’s almost impossible to think about anything other than the moment in a fishing kayak. Casting erases all past and future. There is only the path of the line and the gentle sound of the lure or fly touching down. That’s all there is and all there can be. The world is small, defined, and finite. It is all the things it can’t be when the gear is hung up to dry in the garage.

For me, all of this feel permanent. What I’ve seen I can’t unsee. I’ve found a way of letting go of what I “endure” as my part of the contract. I don’t imagine I’ll forget that as we all settle into The New Normal.

Preparing

A GPS, a 2 Way Radio, a Map, a Bandana, and a Knife

A thing that we do as humans is think about the future. Sometimes, it’s a simple as a daydream about a hike or a trip to the lake to fish. We do have a tendency to go long and think about where we’d like to be in 5 years. In The After Times, it’s hard to see 2 or 3 weeks ahead, forget about 6 months.

But planning and dreaming are important. So I assemble bits and pieces for trips to the parks. I put together lists of things that we should carry with us to be prepared for our little adventures. We’re not usually out very long with having a puppy at home and two kids that run themselves out after a few hours, so this isn’t like an expedition to Antarctica, but it’s something to consider for any trip out. Scouts are prepared, right?

Yet in my mind, these are grand adventures. I think about taking my radio out to an island on the reservoir and making contacts. I imagine catching large fish early in the morning and snapping a few pictures. I drift to lunching on the shore before paddling back for the day. Again, quiet time on the water.

Is that what we’re all doing right now? Baking bread and adopting puppies so that we can give ourselves a future? Having things around that provide us with a sense that we will have something to do that is different or important tomorrow seems to be a zeitgeist of a sort.

We all need a long game. So we’re making them ourselves.

Quiet Water

The view over the bow of a kayak.

It is very difficult to think negative or hopeless thoughts while paddling on a body of water on a calm, sunny day. Perhaps, that body of water is nothing more than a reservoir frequented by anglers and paddlers. It’s usually quiet. There are birds here and there. Hopefully, there are fish that pop up once in a while. Maybe the boat drifts over some thick vegetation or catches on an unseen piece of wood. They sky can be blue or grey. It hardly matters on green water.

Listening to the sound of the paddle passing through the water is beautiful and serene. It allows for deep breaths and for the mind to drift from thought to thought like the clouds overhead. It forces a sense of the moment. After all, what is more important in that moment than maintaining balance and motion? Very little. Strange that all it takes is the thought of falling into perfectly safe fresh water to clear the mind of all else.

I know that not everyone is finding these things, but I do see so many more people at the parks than I have in years past. More on bicycles. Renting canoes. Hiking on trails. Moving through all of that green and blue simply to have some fresh air in the lungs and the relief of not seeing the same walls day after day. Perhaps we can keep that as a part of The New Normal.