Outdoors offers refuge

by Jason Bain | April 27, 2020
family fishing on breakwall

After six weeks of self-isolation, it never felt better to cast a spinnerbait from the breakwall that lines our family cottage property, hoping to get the attention of a hungry, post-spawn northern pike.

My late-evening position, in a FMZ where I’m fortunate to be able to target the apex predator, offers a panoramic view to a cacophony of spring sights and sounds.

The calming chorus of songbirds and spring peepers is occasionally interrupted by the loud honks of settling geese, or gobble of a distant turkey. Diving ducks – buffleheads, I think – occasionally speed by, wingtips nearly grazing the water.

Social-isolating humans are in on it, too. Someone is cranking out “Walking in Memphis” downriver. Maybe it really is Saturday night, after all.

Busting stress

I would not hook into a pike before the last light emptied from the sky. But that really doesn’t matter. This stress and anxiety-busting connection with nature certainly does, however, during this all-important time.

I relished the fact that so many others were sharing in this special bond today, as turkey and trout seasons opened. I enjoyed reading on social media that a colleague’s son and a former co-worker both harvested their first turkeys.

My family made memories today, too. My son learned how to catch crayfish, while my daughter learned how to change baits on her own.

After a visit to the Talbot River Dam sanctuary, where hordes of suckers were beginning their spring run, our daughter blurted how it was the “coolest thing ever.” My wife and I turned to each other and smiled.

Let’s go outside

This pandemic has me, and certainly others, thinking more about how important time outdoors is to our mental health. Officials have made it clear that staying at home doesn’t mean staying indoors.

We’ve been spending our lunches walking along the trails next to our hometown river seconds from our back door, while respecting social distancing.

In fact, with bass season and many more days of working from home ahead, I’m looking forward to wrapping up many evenings casting my rod here – the same as I have done for the decade we’ve lived in our house.

Impact immeasurable

We called our cottage weekend a guilt-free escape. As we packed up the truck for the weekend, we explained to a neighbour that it’s in the same municipality, merely 35 minutes away. It’s even in the same catchment area as our hospital.

The impact of this visit was immeasurable. We expect the kids to be beaming for several days. They needed it – learn at home, while mom and dad are working from home, has been difficult. The cottage was a beacon of hope during trying times.

Jason Bain headshot

We continue to be responsible, strictly following provincial orders and guidelines. I hope that others can continue to be responsible so that all outdoors enthusiasts continue to enjoy this tremendous opportunity in the challenging weeks ahead.

Jason Bain is the managing editor of Ontario OUT of DOORS. You can reach him at jason.bain@oodmag.com

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  1. Pat Watson wrote: This story is a breath of fresh air! Get ready though, the Covid19 fear mongers will be calling you out for going to the cottage and fishing with your kids. They will say "How dare you go to the cottage, put your children at risk and extend the curve". I say kick your feet up and enjoy a cold one! I am willing to bet your kids slept better than they have in a long time.
    • Jason Bain wrote: Thank you for the kind note.
  2. James Wallace wrote: Thanks for the article Jason, make me feel like crying with joy. I too enjoy the outdoors. Wildness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit
    • Jason Bain wrote: Thank you for the kind note.
  3. Gary wrote: All the health experts are saying we must stay at home except for trips for supplies etc . Politicians in Cottage are begging you to stay home and not burden the local infrastructure. You should not be using your position with this esteemed magazine to advocate unsafe practices, Shame on you.
    • Jason Bain wrote: Thank you for sharing your opinion, Gary. Please note that, as noted in the column, our cottage is a short drive away and there was zero impact on our local infrastructure. We are not advocating unsafe practices.