These are tough times these days as people stay home from work and school to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 virus pandemic. How can people deal with being socially isolated and confined to their homes? There are only so many books to read and movies to watch before boredom and antsy-ness set in.

Yes, there are cleaning and organizing projects to do and skis to wax and bikes to clean and lubricate, but will that sustain you for two weeks or more? Not me — I have to get outside!

Fortunately, with spring just arriving, the weather is improving and it’s easier to go for walks, runs, snowshoes, and skis. Fresh air and sunshine do wonders for the soul and body. Outdoors, you can see other people, but still maintain your 6-foot distance. You can hear other people laugh and watch dogs romp in the snow. Birds are flying and flitting everywhere, singing their spring songs. Footprints in the snow let you know bears are moving around, too.

Set aside some time every day to get yourself and your kids outside. Go for a walk, hike or bike and look for those signs of spring. If you still have snow, put on snowshoes, boots or skis and head to the woods. Just being outside will help everyone feel better and happier. Make it a part of your daily routine.

Now that all alpine areas have closed out of precaution for spreading the virus, there’s no more downhill skiing to be had, but adventurous souls might try skinning up, skiing down. Most Nordic/cross-country areas are also closed, but Bear Notch Ski Touring and Jackson Ski Touring still have groomed trails open, but their centers are closed. There are no rentals, ski lessons or ticket sales available. Season pass holders or those using honor system or giving online donations are welcome to use the trails.

Monday, I didn’t have work, so I took the opportunity to drive up to Jackson’s Prospect Farm to ski as much as I could. The parking lot was almost full midday, but I found a spot. Happy people and dogs were everywhere. I grabbed my skate skis and hit the trails. The coverage was fantastic, the sun was warming, and I was out in fresh air! It was a sure cure for cabin fever and self-isolation!

Last weekend, I found enough snow on local trails to patch together an afternoon ski. In some places, I was on ice, in others, I walked across bare ground, but for the most part, I was skiing on snow. It’ll probably be my last ski there for the season, so I made the best of it and enjoyed being outside.

Wednesday we walked on Potter Road at the south end of Conway Lake. We were following Mary Holland’s advice to “look for signs of spring.” We didn’t see many — a few birds flitting from tree to tree, a chipmunk scampering across the snow. But, then Peter spotted a sure spring sign — trailing arbutus plants on Snow Brook’s bank.

Mud piles on the snow told us beavers were moving around, too. They constructed these scent mounds of mud, debris and castoreum, a urine-based substance, to mark the borders of their territory.

Skinny tire tracks on the muddy road showed us someone had been out riding a bike. Human and dog footprints told us others had walked here, too. Deer tracks in the snow, coming down the hillside and heading toward the stream, let us know other animals were moving about as the weather got warmer.

The hardest part of staying home is not seeing your friends and family. We can only “Facetime” our grandchildren and call or email friends. It’s not quite the same as physical contact and hugs, but it’ll have to do for now. At least we can keep in “touch.”

Friends are e-mailing book title suggestions, recipes and even bad jokes. I guess we’re all in this together — nobody’s immune. The best we can do is keep ourselves healthy and busy while we wait for the curve to flatten.

The best way to stay healthy and sane is to get outdoors. Change your scenery, breathe fresh air, stimulate your senses and exercise your joints. Schedule daily outings for you and your kids. Explore the woods, ride your bikes, play in the yard. This forced “vacation” from everyday life is an opportunity to spend quality time together with your family. Make the most of it.

I hope everyone is doing well and adjusting to this new regime. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be past this pandemic and will be able to be with each other again, working, teaching, learning and playing together. Hang in there. Announcements

Due to health concerns, the following upcoming events have been cancelled: Mount Washington Valley Bicycling Club’s Spring Meeting, scheduled for April 9, has been cancelled. MWVBC’s Kids’ Bike Safety Day at Story Land, Saturday, May 9 has been cancelled. Other events like Crank the Kanc, slated for Saturday, May 16, are still up in the air. Check the website often.

Sally McMurdo is currently a cross-country ski instructor at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. For almost four decades, she has explored New England’s groomed and ungroomed trails on all kinds of skis.

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