Mike Bredeson PhD.
How have you been lately? Bored, isolated? Many of us are feeling this way during the era of social distancing. If you’re like me, Netflix and Facebook provide distractions for about an hour before the feelings well-up again. What can each of us do to boost our moods and feel a sense of purpose during this weird time we’re living through? I posed this question to my fellow coworkers. Being all scientists of agriculture and natural resources, I bet you can guess where their minds took them… Food and mother nature! Here are some of their ideas. They might just spur you into action and lift your spirits!
Spring is here! Trees and grass are growing, stealing the sun’s energy right out of thin air. Why not try and capture some for yourself by gardening? Whether you’re ready to convert the whole yard into vegetables, or you’re a bit smaller scale with tomatoes or peppers in a bucket on the front step, growing fresh food is one of the most rewarding activities known to man. Feeling healthy soil with your hands and watching your plants reach for the sky releases endorphins in your body, hormones that make you happier. And of course, nothing will put a smile on your face later this summer like biting into a burger topped with a crimson, juicy slab of tomato!
If you’re in need of a nice walk or breath of fresh air venture out to a nearby country road or public water access and pick up trash. Country roads and public boat launches are perennial collectors of garbage. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can fill a five-gallon pail with rubbish. During these days of social distancing it is easy to feel like we’re not being helpful. Curbing pollution and beautifying the outdoors benefits your fellow neighbors, humans and wildlife, by keeping resources like soil and water healthy.
Just because our own activity has been slowed due to COVID-19 doesn’t mean the birds and bugs are any less rambunctious! Spring is the best time of year to spot nature in motion. Birds are dawning their brightest colors and alien-like bugs are waking up after a long winter’s rest. Take a stroll into a public walk-in area. Keep your eyes and ears sharp to catch a lucky glimpse of woodpeckers or blue jays. Peek under a few logs or peel back last year’s dead grass to witness soil’s hidden wonders.
Is the weather not ideal for heading outside? Grab ingredients from food companies dedicated to conserving natural resources and bake like your life depends on it! Of course, we all love to taste the fruits of our own labor, but how much better it is to share what you’ve created. Find a way, while keeping your distance, to deliver nourishment or an uplifting treat to someone you know that could use a pick-me-up.
Not a bad list, for a bunch of scientists. What I find especially interesting about these ideas is they all have something to do with taking a step closer to nature. Growing food, protecting and appreciating resources and nurturing others with healthy ingredients from healthy environments. Maybe this list shouldn’t surprise me at all. As humans, we often fall into thinking that we are somehow separate from nature. In truth, we are inseparable. Perhaps this is why so much joy and fulfillment can be gained by simply spending time with natural resources. Get out there, feel better, feel purposeful, enjoy nature, enjoy yourselves.