Monday, February 25, 2008

Just Living Is Not Enough...

One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Anderson

One of the advantages of a little down time (hopefully very little) is finding out what’s up on daytime television. A little goes a long way. Jerry, Steve and Maury seem to have some pretty good gigs, all indoor work and no heavy lifting involved. Brow beating the helpless, hopeless and harebrained is always good fun. The shows help grown men to keep in touch with their inner adolescent and make a living at it.

One of the bright spots is Versus , the old Outdoor Life Network. It’s a guy thing. Not owned by a sports team, the channel takes a broader approach to it’s programming. Hockey, cycling and college basketball are the main team sports features. It’s here you can watch the Tour de France and other bike races in the US and abroad. There is also programming about things like hunting, fishing, wildlife management and maintenance of hunting plots and fishing areas. Catch and release is the standard in the fishing shows but be warned about the hunting shows. They don’t hesitate to show large animals being taken by gunfire or arrows and looked at as trophies. If seeing that bothers you then the watch something else.

Two of the best of the hunting shows are Escape To The Wild and Life In The Open . The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a group that is working to keep wild areas and government properties open to the hunter and fishermen, promotes responsible energy development and wildlife habitat management. They also have a program that is called the Union Sportsman Alliance , a dues-based, hunting and fishing club of the TRCP and its partner unions, designed exclusively for union members and their families that hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors. Polls revealed that 70% of all union members hunt and fish and do not belong to any formal conservation or outdoor organization. I consider NRA to be an industry trade group for the promotion and sale of firearms and ammunition and not concerned with conservation. Promoting safe marksmanship is important but the mission of TRCP and the NRA are different. You can shoot on a range but you can only hunt in the wild.

While most of the work that TRCP is doing is based on the West and Midwest, there is a show City Limits has a professional fisherman trying to catch the legal limit of fish within major US cities, including NYC, DC and Chicago.

The Nature Conservancy reports that outdoor activities like camping and hiking are declining in a shift away from nature-based recreation. They lay the blame on people spending more time in front of their televisions and computers. I suspect that the decline is based less on indoor recreational activities than the loss of free time and vacations for working families trying to maintain what they have. But that discussion is for another day.

We may be the cultural capital of the world but we also have terrific outdoor things to do. The Appalachian Trail can be gotten to by the Metro-North at Pauling or the Day Line can take you to Bear Mountain. Oceans, rivers and the National Parks surround us. Teach your child to hunt and fish the proper way and they’ll respect nature for the rest of their lives. Spend the night away in a sleeping bag deep in the woods, looking at the stars and you’ll live longer, better. Get out of the theatre, studio or shop and enjoy life. Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

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