Nobel Prizing winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a book entitled “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

My apologies to the now deceased Columbian novelist for paraphrasing his remarkable novel’s title for this simple column.

With restaurants, bars, movie theatres, gyms, beaches and even playgrounds now closed as our society works to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, people are looking for any means possible to get out of the house while still staying safe.

The silver lining, if such is even possible at this time, is a noticeable increase in hiking, biking, fishing and any other “outside in nature” activities.

Here in Redwood Falls, the Ramsey Park hiking trails are busier than ever.

I frequently drive by a small county park that features beautiful hills, trees and a stream.

On a typical Sunday afternoon, there might be three or four cars in the parking lot, on a typical weekday evening there might be a single car in that parking lot.

Over the last couple of weekends, the parking lot has regularly been filled with 25-30 cars.

Assuming two or three park visitors per car, my guess is that the 50-75 visitors to this park are challenged to keep their social distance from each other.

While driving yesterday, I passed several small lakes on which the ice recently “went out.” Every boat landing was filled with vehicles and boat trailers. The lakes themselves were spotted with fishing boats. People are getting outside more and enjoying outdoor recreation.

With so many traditional leisure and recreation venues closed at the present time, now is a great time for outdoor recreation. Head for the hiking trails at the park.

Take your bike out of the storage shed, pump up the tires and hit the streets or the many bike trails in the area. When you arrive at the parking lot or trail head, practice social distancing.

If there are other folks there, wait for the persons ahead of you to get on the trail before you get out of your car. You might want to bring along a scarf, bandana or a mask of some sort just in case you need to cough or sneeze. Keep your distance from others as much as possible when on the trail. 

The ice is off of our rivers and lakes. Paddling a canoe or kayak is another great way to get outside, enjoy nature, get some exercise, have fun and maintain social distancing. You might want to select your paddling partner from the group of people with whom you already interact on a regular basis. If you are paddling a solo canoe or kayak, it is easy to keep your distance from other paddlers.

Again, respect social distance at the landings. Wait for the paddling party ahead of you to launch or clear the landing before you approach the landing yourself. That scarf, bandana or mask you used when you went to the park to hike might be a good idea in the parking area and on the boat launch if other people are around.

Now is a great time to engage in outdoor recreation. Just maybe, you will enjoy the outdoors so much you wont even notice when the bars and restaurants reopen.

– Ted Suss is a local environmental enthusiast, former Wabasso school superintendent and politician from Lucan