Art of the State Parks

audio narrative: Walk in the Time of Coronavirus

But the beauty is in the walking – we are betrayed by destinations.

 Gwyn Thomas

Oak leaves seem to float atop melting ice.

an early March walk at Lake Maria State Park

As Richard and I recover from my our bouts with Covid 19 that we caught from who-knows-where due to the horrific increase in community spread, I’m reposting this audio narrative from March of this year. That was the moment when the United States came to terms with the presence of this novel and deadly Coronavirus within its borders.

Spring, 2020 – For many of us, early March was “before” and now we reside in “after,” or perhaps more accurately, “during.” It’s hard to remember so many freedoms we enjoyed only a few weeks ago. And I don’t speak simply to being able to come and go as we please, congregate and share activities without a thought, or that our lives had some semblance of stability.

What I refer to is the loss of our dreams, ones we could plan for and bring to life, ones that sustained our hard work and focus, ones that made life rich and worth sacrificing for.

Now, we isolate and we wait.

Believe me, I am committed to what it takes for our common welfare, but I wonder if we’ll lose something from this time. If that’s hubris, then ok. If it’s hope, I’m heartbroken.

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GUEST POST: Staying Positive by Lonnie Dupre

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

Dolly Parton
Guest Post writer and Arctic Explorer Lonnie Dupre in Greenland.
Lonnie resting at a hunting hut on the east coast of Greenland, just before finishing a 6,500 mile circumnavigation in 2001.

I met legendary Arctic explorer, Lonnie Dupre, when he agreed to come on my radio program. He only recently summited Mount Denali…soloIN WINTER. What caught my attention was not only the achievement itself, but the mindset he needed to adopt in order to follow through, even in the face of setbacks. It wasn’t lost on me that he listens to classical music to stay focused, calm, centered, brave and empowered. We have since become friends and last summer, hiked a few trails on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

For what its worth and perhaps stating the obvious, here are my two cents.

We don’t know what this virus will do to us. It could mean life or death. So staying put for a few weeks to months is a short personal sacrifice compared to one’s potential future.

It could very well turn out to be months that we need to keep a distance from family, friends and neighbors. When even just the first 14 days seems like an eternity.

To get through this, one needs to first be optimistic and train your mind by understanding and excepting that we could be in this for the long haul.

Look at it as a long and grueling expedition that needs some planning and is implemented in small steps – day by day, step by step.

Look at it as a long and grueling expedition that needs some planning and is implemented in small steps – day by day, step by step. Don’t be thinking about the finish line or when this will all end. Look at this as a challenge on how you can best adapt. Stay optimistic and look for the bright spots that keep you motivated to climb out of the bed each morning.

Reasons to be optimistic

  • It makes people stop and think about what’s important in life…family, getting in touch with nature, contemplating life in general, long walks in the park, making that long put-off call to a distant friend.
  • The virus doesn’t care if you are rich, poor, old, young, male, female, black or white. The virus is a great equalizer that will bring people closer together.
  • These times make us reflect on what we are doing to our planet and each other.
  • The earth’s environment and animals get a break from all the pollution with air quality getting better each day.
  • We soon realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us and we are not the only things that matter.
  • This will humble us.
  • This changes life around the world as we know it. A re-set button to perhaps something better.

How to stay energized

  • Write that book you always wanted to do or undertake that building or landscaping project.
  • Have a camping expedition with the family in your backyard. In preparations for future trips. Kids will love it too!
  • Give back and plant a few trees.
  • Tackle that list of putzy jobs around the house.
  • Step in and volunteer in your community.
  • Take an online class. Perhaps learn a new language, photography…
  • Plant a garden, get chickens, train a new puppy…
  • Get out of bed, eat good, and exercise.
  • Allow yourself to just be. Try and relax to lower your stress. You can’t control what is, just care for what you can.

Warm healthy regards, Lonnie

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GUEST POST: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing by Julie Singh

I would get a lot of writing done if I lived in isolation in a cave under a swamp.

Claire Cameron

Julie Singh is a full-time explorer via RV and shares he knowledge of the outdoor world through her blog Trip Outside.

I “met” Julie Singh on-line when she contacted me about my life as the Blissful Hiker. I have to say, I envy what she has carved out for herself as a full-time RV-based explorer, biker, hiker, paddler, skier and outdoor advocate. With her husband Reet, she founded TripOutside, an all-in-one for researching top outdoor destinations, finding adventures and gear from the best local outfitters, and booking it all online. This is a superb and comprehensive list on how to stay sane – and fit in body and mind – during this unprecedented moment.

There’s no denying that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a stop to almost all outdoor activities. With increased home quarantines and social distancing measures, cancelling outdoor adventures has become the new norm. This may leave you bored, anxious, and searching for ways to stay fit. We feel ya! That’s why we’ve put together this guide with ways to stay sane and active during the pandemic.

How to Deal with a Complete 180 of your Lifestyle

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GUEST POST: “walks everywhere” by Ann Juergens

We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place.

Annie Dillard

Ann Juergens and I serve on the board of the Schubert Club, a classical concert presenting organization in Saint Paul. At our last meeting, before social distancing when it was still safe to share a glass of wine and small talk in close quarters, Ann shared with me how she walks every day and everywhere, too. Ann is a model for how we can all become #blissfulhikers even during a Pandemic.

From my front porch I watch people I’ve never seen before walking past my home. On the last day of March it is 55 degrees, and they walk down the middle of this residential street, on the sidewalks or on the grass, with dogs or with one other person, or, if in a group of 3 or 4, they walk with social distance between them. Dozens and dozens of people, they walk briskly with ear buds and babies and beverages or slowly with limp, walker or cane.

The pandemic and its shelter-at-home mandates are pushing people to walk as never before in memory. When the four walls of our domestic cells become too much, we no longer hop into the car and head to another place. At least we’ve been instructed not to do that unless for an essential errand.  So every day after some hours of work or schooling, when my St. Paul neighbors and I need to get out of our homes, we rely on our itchy feet.  

And walk we do.

The pandemic and its shelter-at-home mandates are pushing people to walk as never before in memory. 

Art of the State Parks

audio narrative: Afton on the Stay-at-Home-Order

Finally I saw that worrying came to nothing. And gave up. And took my old body and went out into the morning and sang.

Mary Oliver
Afton State Park before the shut down

last years oak leaves make a wonderful crunch as I walk

I gather speed as my car swoops down a winding roller-coaster of road. The posted speed is 25, but she lunges forward, whining after I downshift all the way to the bottom until leveling out, then slowing to a creep, back up the other side. I pass a curtain of silvery birch. Snow blankets the slopes to my left, the chairlift is still now. Oak Savannah on my right, is crispy brown and dry.

This is Afton State Park. It shares a name with the quaint village nearby which took its name from Robert Burns, “Sweet Afton.” Fields roll toward vistas, three hundred feet above the Saint Croix River, Minnesota and Wisconsin’s natural border. Afton is home to gold medal winning crosscountry skier Jessie Diggans, and the grandly named Afton Alps, the largest ski area in the Twin Cities.

We’ve been told by our governor to stay home – but not stay indoors necessarily, urged to get outside while still keeping our six-foot distance. The parking lot is full and people walk in small clumps, crunching through last year’s leaves. An ice island of phantom ski tracks and long-healed thunderbolt-shaped cracks is filled with migratory birds. The crackly noisemaker call of sandhill cranes competes with a neighbor’s revving engine.