At Leaf Out Nature Guides, our season has been cut short as many others in winter tourism in Alaska has due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are sad to not be sharing the boreal forest in March as it's our favorite winter month. March brings warmth and sunshine, with longer days and less layers, but the land is still covered in snow so everyone is out playing! Since we can't share the natural world directly with anyone, we wanted to put out some ideas of fun activities for adults and children alike, to make the most of this time.
The world is a busy and technology-centered place nowadays, but this virus has shut down much of the bustle. It is easy to still be very technologically focused if you have access to the internet, and now more than ever we all need to be aware of our screen time and find ways to have balance. With so many of us stuck at home and everything getting cancelled, what can we do for entertainment? For health? For education? That is where nature comes in! How about a walk in a local park? If you have a backyard, what can you find living there? Do you know the names of the birds that visit your feeder or trees? How about the plants growing in your yard? Social/physical distancing can be hard as it can make us feel disconnected, but spending time in nature is a great way to focus on connection in another way.
Find things that bring joy and laughter! Sometimes it helps to have kids to bring this part out in us, but if you don't have kids, think about the things you loved to do as a kid. Climb a tree, dig in the mud, look under rocks for critters--some of my favorites but since it's still winter here we can't do any of those. Fortunately we are getting heaps of fresh snow right now with the temperatures hanging out right around freezing. Usually our snow is too dry to make a snowball, let alone a snowman, but warm, more humid spring temperatures are making all things possible! Yesterday Evan and I made our family in snow. It was so fun to just play, remembering the joys of childhood, creating something and making it together.
Make the most of this time together. We are not parents, and we have all the empathy in the world for how difficult it must be to homeschool kids while still trying to work--you are all doing amazing! Is there a way to find silver linings in this opportunity? To embrace this time with everyone together and do more family activities? Maybe go camping, even if it's just in the backyard?
If you can't get outside, do a virtual adventure. We've heard more and more places putting together virtual/videos of their park, museum, or zoo. The National Park Service has created a series of incredible tours through several parks, including Kenai Fjord (in Alaska!!), Hawai'i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and Dry Tortugas. Other great virtual nature adventures we've heard of include: Cincinnati Zoo, Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, and the National Marine Sanctuaries (with virtual diving!), to name a few. You could also journey around the natural word with David Attenborough, watching any number of BBC or PBS-produced documentary series featuring the range ecosystems and amazing parts of our Mother Earth.
Businesses are moving the parts of their operation that involve people, such as checkout lines outside to provide air movement and more space for social distancing. Why not follow their lead and move ourselves outside? It's a challenging time with so many people being impacted in so many ways. Lets get creative and make sure we take care of ourselves, our families, and our communities!
Be well friends,
Leaf Out Nature Guides
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Hi! I'm Shannon, the owner and operator of Leaf Out Nature Guides in Fairbanks, Alaska. Trained in biology and ethnobotany, I work, live, and play in the forests and tundras of Alaska. At Leaf Out we provide snowshoe tours and nature hikes in the Fairbanks area for adventurers of all ages and ability levels!