DAVIS COLUMN: Encouraging people to head outdoors

DAVIS COLUMN: Encouraging people to head outdoors

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A non-living particle, by biological characteristics, is doing what conservation organizations, birding groups, learn-to-hunt sessions and fly-tying sit downs have struggled to do.

Try hiking, biking, birding, hooking fish, caging furbearers, processing venison, training bird dogs, gathering greens and mushrooms, picking nuts and berries and just taking advantage of daylight-saving time to shine a light on late-feeding deer, we’re suggesting.

With no professionals to watch, races (Boston Marathon) to run, markets to shop, deer expos to attend (Madison), or schools to teach, welcome to gathering Wisconsin — in the broadest of possible ways. Consumptive or passive; licensed or unnecessary; far or near; these all are ways to follow suggestions to put distance between us and others.

Choose among looking via hiking, photographing at dawn, sketching over lunchtime, observing through a vehicle window, hooking via lures, clipping with a vegetable scissors, hunting with a turkey gun, pruning with a clippers, and blocking firewood with a chainsaw.

Humans are advised to stay 6 feet away, sneeze into the inner side of our elbow, wash our thumbs, too, and conserve toilet paper. Some are already watching anxiously for mullein, nature’s toilet paper, with its soft velvety leaves, to branch out and be available.

Even before COVID-19 got a good lead in this game, a neighbor returned from Christmas in Europe and wondered silently how long he could go without a trip to a market. He checked his freezer, basement shelves, and covered garden carrots and was excited to take the test.

Another neighbor was happy to read about, albeit a month late, just having fun with making maple syrup for Sunday pancakes, friends, and family in her kitchen. She placed five taps and began eating breakfast.

Instead of going inside early for a meeting and kibitzing with Wisconsin Towns Association officials about how to play with local tax levies, I sat outside instead, stayed germ-free, and watched a dozen robins gorge on last summer’s crabapple fruits. I thereby passed on the free donuts, coffee and other virus-laden goodies.

True, there may not be much, if any, savings in gathering Wisconsin by being as simple as watching a robin, uncovering a garden carrot or drilling a 5/8-inch hole into a boxelder’s secondary xylem, but these are all things to do to avoid picking up a hitchhiker.

By the way, just thinking and learning about this disease-laden, free-loading particle is onto itself a way to spend some time.

It’s not easy to talk about a disease-causing thing that doesn’t have a formal, scientific name like Escherichia coli, E. coli and now Ecoli for short.

But here’s a try. This coronavirus is in a family with many others, but they have been given names so scientists around the world are all talking the same language.

This particular coronavirus causes a highly infectious respiratory disease, now called covid-19, or COVID-19. The co for corona, vi for virus, d for disease, and 19 for December 2019, when it was noticed to be problematic.

Like all viruses, we need an electron microscope to see them. We have seen it colored and enhanced newspaper sketches.

A facsimile of this virus particle’s shape can be seen by peering into an early spring flowering skunk cabbage spathe (hood). Inside is a globose grouping called a spadix, which resembles, but only in shape, a coronavirus.

Wild turkeys seek and eat skunk cabbage, probably because it is one of the first greens to emerge. Turkeys return in autumn to feast on the fruits, too, which to us would be no more appealing than a spray in the face.

There, without raising a finger, individuals, groups, clubs and state organizations can almost sit back and watch society move outdoors during this pandemic, enjoy what they may have avoided, or been unwilling to try.

In the process, this move may save a life or two and give us something to do to help make Wisconsin, Wisconsin again.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at sivadjam@mhtc.net or 608-924-1112.

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