Outdoors people are no strangers to social distancing

2020 02 Ric Barton In Ice Shack
Ric Barton, of Chippewa County, was ice fishing on the St. Mary’s River with the author when talk of the COVID-19 virus really started to ramp up.

A couple weeks ago, as the news about the COVID-19 pandemic was really ramping up, I was sitting in an ice shanty with a friend. The fishing was slow, and so we had plenty of time to talk about infectious diseases.

I told my partner that all of the news about the virus had me wondering if we should be sharing such close quarters. In the past, I was more worried about whether the four burritos he ate the night before would end up polluting the air in the shack. I wasn’t worried about what might be coming out of the other end of his body, be it germs from a cold, flu or just the scent of unbrushed teeth.

Since the cases of COVID-19 have spread in our country, my hunting and fishing partners and I have been practicing social distancing and we’ve been fishing alone in our ice shelters. One of our partners just returned from an international trip, so we haven’t been fishing with him at all while he self-quarantines.

The other day, someone sent me an opinion piece about the benefits of sunlight and fresh air on sickness, and how the two were used as treatment in the United States for sick patients during the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed millions around the world. The writer said those nursed with “open air” treatment recovered more quickly than those who were treated indoors.

As I read that, it occurred to me that we outdoors-minded people have always known about the health benefits of being outside. We’re no strangers to social distancing, either. The solitude of being outdoors, along with the fresh air, sunshine, and exercise, makes for powerful medicine.

The air isn’t always so fresh in the ice shack if the occupants haven’t bathed, or if their dinner is disagreeing with them, so it’s probably good that the ice is melting and we can fish or hunt for mushrooms while maintaining a safe distance from each other. I’m sure we’ll be sharing a boat with our self-quarantined world traveler, soon.

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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