There is mounting evidence that too much screen time is detrimental to humans, and in particular to children. Excessive screen time has physical effects of being sedentary and sitting for too long, as well as mental health issues and interrupted sleep patterns. The good news is is that the solution to the problem is right outside the door. Studies have shown that spending time outside and, in particular, in nature is highly beneficial to children’s’ (and adults’) physical and mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, improves resiliency and improves sleep quality. I believe the best way of breaking the cycle of screen dependence in children and youth is to take them along into nature, essentially modelling the behaviour. You can go for a walk, you can birds watch or you can go fishing. A few weeks ago I took my teen and a borrowed one fishing at the Ashland Reservoir. They had a blast, caught a trout and even dispatched it and processed it themselves. In my day job I spend my time with 100+ teens and from getting to know them I know that most youth today have virtually no exposure to the natural world, never mind spending a few tranquile hours fishing for your lunch and then prepping it. These are skills and experiences that will last last a life time and provide much more meaningful memories than any screen can ever provide. Vive la nature!
A change of tunes as today’s picture comes from a fishing trip rather than a nature walk. I don’t do many fishing trips as I prefer to watch the animals and let them live to see another day. While I do have personal objections to hurting or killing animals, which is why stick to plant-based foods myself, I also accept and respect that others have different opinions. Here is the snag thought, if you are consuming animal-based foods, then you should also know where it is coming from and what it takes to acquire it and process it. Contrary to some people’s ideas, fish sticks do not grow on trees (there were stories when I went to elementary school many moons ago about the fish stick tree). So this is where the occasional fishing trip comes in. I see this as a learning opportunity for my meat eating son to catch, dispatch, process and cook his own fish. I am ok with him eating meat as long as he understand on a very personal level what it takes to get it to his dinner plate. You can read and watch YouTube videos about where animal-based foods come from until you are blue in your face, but nothing can replace the experience of fishing or hunting for your own food and then going through the entire process all to way to the plate. If you appreciate your fish or meat after experiencing this process first hand, then good on you. Alternatively, you might also start to question whether animal-based foods are right for you…, but that is a different story altogether. Enough of the philosophical discourse.
Today’s fishing excursion took us to the Ashland Reservoir, about 1 hrs drive south west of Edmonton, close by the hamlet Of Warburg (which has an awesome small burger joint if you are into that sort of food). While the boys were fishing (and yes they did catch some trout) I tried my luck with the wildlife watching. The lake is surrounded by lush deciduous forests and agricultural fields. The lake did not have much water fowl in it, and other than a solitary Common Loon, a few Great Blue Herons, the ever-present Mallard, Red-winged Blackbirds and Canada Geese there was not much else to report. My hunch is that the lack of reeds along the shoreline might be a possible reason for the low diversity. That did not stop the muskrats, however, to put on quite a show. They were quite charming as they were swimming to and fro and curiously checking out our fishing attempts. Long live the muskrats.