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On the Ridge: Let’s remember what’s important right now

  • Joe Judd Contributed photo

Published: 4/1/2020 4:07:01 PM

If you read my column a couple weeks ago, you’ll remember the story about the unusually warm weather in March prompting black bears to leave their dens earlier than usual. I warned that people with bird feeders still in use, all the way from Monroe to Cape Cod, should beware.

Well, Greenfield resident Ann Myles reminded me that, with the exception of one black bear that somehow crossed the Cape Cod Canal back in 2012 and came to shore in Sandwich before continuing all the way to Provincetown and was then captured, there are no black bears on Cape Cod. And she was spot-on about this. I should not have referenced Cape Cod in the story at all. Southeastern Massachusetts, where black bear sightings are not at all unusual, is the region I should have referenced, so thank you Ann, for graciously keeping me on my toes. And thanks for reading the Recorder.

Moving on to something a little more serious, you’re probably aware of the escalating concerns in the United States, and around the world, surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. As springtime begins, the effects have been far reaching as the virus continues to spread. While much is still unknown about how widespread it will become, or what future problems it might eventually cause, most people are starting to take notice. The total effect this virus will have on people’s lives — their families and futures, their livelihood, travel plans, favorite pastimes, and simple outdoor activities that we’ve taken for granted for many years — remains unclear.

I’ll be canceling at least one hunting trip this spring for turkeys because of the virus. Every seminar I had scheduled between March 4 and May 10 is now canceled. But, what can I do? What can any of us do? Whining about it certainly won’t help. I learned long ago that whining to my wife, or to anyone for that matter — especially about interrupted hunts — carries no sympathy.

What can we do? Well for starters, we must accept that this is out of our hands. We must be clear that nothing supercedes the importance of protecting the public and those most vulnerable. And nothing we do should come before protecting ourselves, and our families.

For those heroes in our cities, towns, counties, and country who place the safety and well-being of others before themselves, it’s not quite that simple however. When we understand that, maybe there is something we can do. We can start by showing more appreciation to those individuals, particularly here in Franklin County, who are doing that very thing for us right now.

Praying for, and thanking them is more important than worrying about hunting trips, travel plans, missed baseball seasons, or hoarding toilet paper. This is something ALL OF US can and should do.

For instance, we can ramp up the acknowledgments for all the great health care providers at Franklin and Baystate Medical Centers , Cooley-Dickinson, area nursing homes, and anywhere else where these “Local Heroes” are right in the middle of this “devil disease.”

That health care worker might be a neighbor’s kid you watched grow up playing games on the sidewalk where you live. Maybe that kid sang carols outside your house at Christmas. Maybe they’re a classmate you grew up with who’s now defending us against this disease. Maybe it’s a retired nurse being asked to come out of retirement to bring their knowledge and wisdom to the front of the line. Or maybe it’s your child or relative who became an ambulance driver, EMT, or the one who always dreamed of becoming a police officer and is now a frontline defender.

Maybe it’s the grocery store workers who stay in the battle so we can have what we need to be safe in our homes. Restaurant owners, like the folks at Applebee’s in Greenfield, meeting you at the curb wearing gloves, sometimes a mask, but always with a smile on their face. Or the Village Pizza gang, which understands that some people can’t afford groceries right now, but maybe they can afford a grinder. Pharmacists, mechanics, gas stations, convenience stores, and countless other businesses where workers are just doing their job. Thousands more just like them are doing it, here in Franklin County as well, right now. Through it all, we begin to remember what matters most, while considering the things, and the people, we care about and how we’ve honored them thus far in our lives.

Perhaps all of this will give us a better understanding about where, and with who, we might start centering ourselves as we move forward.

 We know difficulties will undoubtedly continue as this crisis runs its course. But we must stay informed, plan ahead as much as possible, refuse to panic and follow the recommendations of health care officials, while thanking those “angels among us” who are risking their personal health — and the health of the people they love — for us.

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and sportsman. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, and a 2019 inductee into the N.E. Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Joe is also on the Quaker Boy Game Calls and Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Pro-Staff.

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