Take your time and move slowly through early season

In recent days, I’ve spent a good deal of time in the woods and on the waters. Despite the muddy trails and a few flash rainstorms, the spring season has remained relatively bugless to date. However, I expect combined crops of black flies and mosquitoes will soon be in the air. The no-see-ums, horse flies and deer flies will have to wait their turn in line.

All signs point to spring. Although I could count the number of fellow outdoor travelers I’ve encountered on a single hand, I expect anglers will soon be seeking brook trout on the ponds, while others will tackle the streams and rivers.

On the streams, trout will be most active at the base of waterfalls or in pockets of rapids where waters are just a few degrees warmer.

During the early season, it is important to take your time and move slowly. Water temperature also vary in and around the inlets and outlets of lakes and ponds, where some of the first few fly hatches occur.

The spring season also provides some of the best angling opportunities for lake trout and land-locked salmon, as these large predators move into the shallow shoals to seek prey.

In the local woods and fields, hunters continue to “talk turkey” in their efforts call a tom (male) turkey into range. The large, unwieldy prey are very cautious and their eyesight is truly incredible

The natural interaction of calling these wary birds into shooting range is a thrill that is only available during two short seasons in the spring and the fall.

Although current weather patterns have been decidedly warmer than usual, travelers should remain cautious, as winter can reclaim the season at any moment. My nordic skis and snowshoes have been relegated to the garage, promptly replaced by paddles, PFDs, flyrods and a bicycle.

While the small brooks and mountain flows will require a few weeks to flush away the snowmelt, it’s about time for the ponds to turn on.

Although I have not been christened by the first black fly bite of the season, it’s about time for locals to begin offering up the old, familiar wave. “Look Melba, they’re waving at us again! By golly, those Adirondackers certainly are a friendly bunch.”

Naturally happy, healthy and in the woods

Children have a basic right to a healthy, whole childhood. In fact, with the current advances in medicine, nutrition, education and other fields, today’s kids enjoy a higher quality of life than ever before.

However, chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and depression have reached alarming rates, affecting a growing number of kids. More than a third of American children and adolescents are obese or at risk for obesity.

Sixty percent of obese 5- to 10-year-old children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease. The number of kids living with a chronic disease has more than quadrupled since 1960 — from 1.8 percent to nearly 8 percent.

The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes, including children, has risen at an alarming rate over the past 50 years — from 1.5 million to 17.9 million. Researchers identified significant increases of children suffering with obesity. During roughly the same timeframe, nature-based recreation experienced a decline every year, for a total decrease in participation of roughly 25 percent since the early 1980s.

The journal Psychiatric Services reveals the rate at which American children are prescribed anti-depressants has nearly doubled in just five years. We are bigger, fatter, and unhappy. So what do we do?

We sit in front of a large screen, high-definition television, engulfed by surround sound with a bag of munchies while twittering on the computer.

In 1969, nearly half of all U.S. children walked or biked to school. By 2004, fewer than 13 percent did.

The area in which children are free to roam has shrunk by 89 percent in the past 20 years. Nature-based recreation has been in decline since the 1980s, with an estimated decline of roughly 25 percent.

Why does it matter?

It is human nature to protect what we value, which are typically opportunities that we regularly use and enjoy. Spending time outdoors at the seashore, in the mountains or in the woods can be very restorative. It provides us with an opportunity to reconnect and reclaim a familiar piece of our past.

Despite disparate backgrounds and various personal preferences, outdoor travel is one of the most common threads that continues to bind diverse populations across the globe.

We are born with a natural compulsion to return a more relaxed and primitive existence. It doesn’t neccesssarily have to be overly primitive or even adventurous; nearly any outdoor setting will do.

In addition to the many traditions of camp, spending time outdoors enhances our senses; we hear better and detect more scents. Even our sense of touch becomes more keen.

In the outdoors, recreation is omnipresent — for little or no cost — with a group or solo. There is increasing evidence that closeness to the natural environment is healthy. One study suggests that living in a green environment is positively related to such health indicators as levels of stress and amount of physical activity. The relationship between green space and health indicators was somewhat stronger for less-educated people.

Additional research reveals outdoor recreation contributes to wellness through prevention and learning to adapt to a variety of environments.

Outdoor recreation also provides sensory awareness of sounds, scents, sight and feel. Walking is a common denominator among nearly all forms of outdoor recreation.

Participating in regular outdoor activities will: extend your lifespan; lower stress levels; relieve arthritis and back pain; strengthen muscles, bones and joints; improve sleep; and elevate your overall mood and sense of well-being.


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