A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, August 31, 2020

Advice for the Pandemic, or Advice for the Bear that Pooped on the Trail Near my House?

1) Berry-picking is a safe, enjoyable, and healthy outdoor activity that can be conducted in a low-risk manner, but excess berry consumption can lead to digestive surprises.

2) Being somewhat territorial is perfectly natural during these difficult times.  It is best to be clear about the boundaries that are important to you, while remaining civil and friendly to your neighbors from a safe distance.

3) Children are different from adults in several key ways.  While these differences may provide interesting avenues for study, they should not be used as a rationale to place young people at high risk or use them as guinea pigs.

4) Rapidly gaining a huge amount of weight in the coming weeks – enough to render you virtually unrecognizable under dense layers of rolling subcutaneous blubber -- is an excellent idea.  Your survival prospects will be maximized if you are semi-spherical before November.

5) Cultivating as much body hair as possible is also an excellent plan.  Try growing a dense, impenetrable pelt.  This will be highly desirable for mating purposes as well as very important for survival. 

6) Crowded indoor settings such as malls, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are definitely to be avoided. 

7) If you are not wearing a mask when I encounter you, I will choose to believe that this is due to your own physiological limitations, rather than any ill-will toward human society.  However, if you then approach me, I reserve the right to become upset by your actions.

8) If you approach me too closely, I will calmly and slowly back away while talking in a reasonable but authoritative tone, never taking my eyes off you.

9) I will also raise both arms above my head, in an attempt to look as large and intimidating as possible.  I look very large with my arms above my head.

10) In some cases, especially when one or both individuals are breathing heavily, six feet of social distancing is nowhere near adequate.  Ten feet would be better, but to be perfectly frank, I’d really prefer several hundred feet, at least.  Maybe a quarter mile.  A distance best viewed through binoculars.

11) You should be able to find a comfortable and properly fitting mask in a size and style that suits you at numerous local retail outlets or online.

12) If toilet paper supplies become short, just carry on with your unrestrained crapping in the woods.

13) If food supplies become short, I would prefer that you do not eat my family.

Advice for the bear: 1-10, 12-13

Advice for the pandemic: 1-13



Monday, August 24, 2020

COVID-Safe Schooling for Your Feral Child

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the healthy limits you placed on screen time during quarantine, your children have likely spent several months playing in your suburban back yard, urban parks, or primeval woodlands -- where they may have acquired new habits that are counterproductive in a learning environment.  The following tips will allow for a smooth transition to the more structured environment of online learning or in-person schooling.

-- Remind your daughter that during Zoom meetings, inside voices are required.  Howling is frowned upon, even if it is a full moon.  Make sure she knows how to mute and unmute herself.  

-- Your son may become anxious if humans approach too closely.  Congratulations on instilling excellent pandemic safety training!   However, you may want to instruct him not to scamper up trees, screech, or throw spruce cones at teachers.

-- Wild berries and fresh Alaska salmon are part of a heart-healthy diet for adults and children alike, but excess consumption can lead to hibernation during class.

-- Many schools are offering outdoor sports.  If you have signed up your daughter for fall soccer practice, you may need to warn her not to growl and bare her teeth at teammates.  Save that for her opponents.  Those Laurelwood Lynxes are not to be trusted.

-- Remind your child that school rules prohibit sharpening fingernails and licking between toes during lessons on factoring polynomials.

-- Recess offers stress-relieving physical activities for children unused to long periods of focused attention.  Be aware, however, that the virus can be transmitted via activities such as tag, duck-duck-goose, grooming vermin from other students’ hair, and wrestling for alpha dominance in the pack.

-- If your child has spent his time in the wilds associating with ravens or other corvids – an easy mistake to make, depending on your autocorrect settings – you may find that he has taken to collecting shiny items such as earrings, coins, and Mr. Pumphrey’s gold teeth.  A guidance counselor will be calling you shortly.

-- Most schools are relaxing dress codes for distance education.  Be sure to check your district website for specifications regarding pajamas, spaghetti straps, fur, and feathers.  Antlers are to be discouraged, especially during the rutting season.

-- Good news: the school lunch program will still be offering meals during remote learning!  Vegetarian options are available, but no accommodations can be made for children who consume only raw voles.

-- Be sure to emphasize that although it is perfectly acceptable for your child to decorate her locker with personal items, she should refrain from marking her territory by spraying.

-- If your feral children have been fostered by halibut, trout, or sockeye, you have no cause for concern; fish do not exhale potentially infectious respiratory droplets.  Also, they take well to schools.