By Brent Frazee
The government’s advice to avoid crowds and even go as far as self-quarantining during the coronavirus scare came as a huge inconvenience to many.
Not me. I have been training for this most of my adult life.
When you love to fish, hike and camp, you have a passion for being far away from the maddening crowds.
Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy going to a Chiefs or NCAA tournament basketball game every once in a while, despite the claustrophobic feeling I get when the crowds are at a standstill once the game is over. But the older I get, the more I crave being alone in the outdoors, where life slows down, I can relax and I can forget life’s troubles.
There, I don’t have to worry about someone coughing on me. I don’t have to sit elbow to elbow in a packed arena. I don’t have to wash my hands every five minutes. And I don’t have to wonder where our next roll of toilet paper is going to come from in this unlikely run on grocery stores.
I watched as the dominoes fell when major sports postponed or canceled their seasons one by one. The NBA, college basketball, the NHL, major-league baseball. It’s scary stuff.
Coronavirus is a highly communicable disease, and people with no apparent symptoms can become active carriers.
It makes you not want to be around people, whether it be in a crowded bar, a restaurant or a sports stadium.
I’m not an alarmist; I’m not one of these doomsday guys who walks around carrying a sign reading, “The world is ending.” Still, I have diabetes and I’m a senior citizen, two factors that puts me at risk.
Luckily, I don’t have to shut the door to my house, close the drapes and wait for this crisis to play out.
I can self-quarantine in the outdoors, a place that always has been the central part of my life.
While others are buzzing about March Madness being cancelled, I can hop into my boat on a sun-soaked day and enjoy the beauty of the private lake I call home.
The other day, I concentrated on catching big bass and trout, but there were distractions. As I fished one bank, I watched bluebirds flit from tree to tree. Turtles basked in the warm sun from their perch on a log. And Canada geese honked loudly as my boat approaches, almost as if to announce, “A little privacy here. This is where we are building our nest.”
There were no news alerts announcing another death from the virus, no calls announcing that a meeting had been cancelled, no emails debating on whether or not to call off conferences.
This was my antidote to the coronavirus; at least a temporary respite from the pandemic and its effects on the stock market, the economy and worldwide travel.
It reminded me of the day that I and a friend were in a waterfowl marsh on 9-11, hunting teal without a care as the world was unravelling.
The outdoors was a refuge on that day; a place to escape the craziness of what was happening outside of my cocoon.
I look at the situation pretty much the same way this time around.
Whoever thought a virus that few people had even heard of several months ago could bring a nation like ours to its knees? How many victims will there be? How fast will this virus spread? How long will it take for our scientists to come up with a vaccine?
All are questions that are being discussed at water coolers, among friends and on social media. But in the solitude of the outdoors, the answers don’t seem as pressing.
In the coming weeks, I plan to spend as much time as I can in my fishing boat, on a beautiful float stream in the Ozarks, in the turkey woods, catching crappies at Lake of the Ozarks or taking hikes in some of my favorite spots.
Sorry for being anti-social. But for now, there are big advantages to being a loner.