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The Great Outdoors (Are Always Open): An easy scavenger hunt to ease you into nature

Linda Lee Baird

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Quarantine. Isolation. Social distancing. The words defining our historic (and historically difficult) moment are all about solitude—and we’re bound to be using them for some time to come. But getting through these long days doesn’t mean we need to be inside. In fact, even under the “stay at home” orders currently in effect, getting out in the fresh air is still very much allowed. Spring goes on springing, and the time away from schools and the office gives us the opportunity to soak it in, observe, and enjoy the changes. 

For those who have been disconnected from nature for a few years, or never connected in the first place, here’s a beginner’s guide to the plants and animals you may see around our Metro Parks, woods, and rivers this spring. We went with common species—because it feels good to be able to check things off your list—but think of this as a starting point for paying a little more attention to the natural world around you. 

And if you are one of the many people who is suddenly leading a homeschool, you can use this as an educational scavenger hunt. My “class” will be taking this list up to Highbanks on the first warm April afternoon. 

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Birds

Robin

My mom used to point out the “first robin of spring” as March turned to April every year—a sign that the season was changing and more birds would soon be joining their song in the trees.

Hawk

Look up! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… actually a bird. Our flat lands and wide skies are an ideal combination to catch a hawk carefully circling in  the sky.  (Because this is an easy scavenger hunt, any bird of prey can check this box. We won’t tell). 

Warblers

The Ohio Division of Wildlife calls warblers, “one of the avian highlights of spring.” While there are several species that visit our state, the blue-winged, golden winged, and yellow all have bright yellow coloring that perhaps makes them easier to spot in the trees. ODW recommends Greenlawn Cemetery as a local spot to see them.

Animals

Deer

They’re everywhere in Ohio, but there’s still something magical about spotting one in the wild and looking into its tranquil eyes.

Butterflies

Yes, there are many different types of butterflies that live in Central Ohio and yes, they are most active later in the year, but the common painted lady starts fluttering around as early as April. If you find a butterfly of any species this early in the season, we’ll give you full credit. 

Frogs

Head down to the water and open your ears for that familiar croak. You’re likely to spot them chillin’ on the bank or the nearest lily pad, but it’s really fun if you get to watch them swim. 

Baby… anything

It’s spring, the season many species welcome their babies into the world. And if there’s anything cuter than an animal, it’s a baby animal. Ducklings, bunnies, birds nests; anywhere you can spot an animal family will let you tick this box. 

Plants

Fiddlehead ferns

One of the first signs that the earth is returning from winter is the emergence of fiddlehead ferns. Their distinctive spiral sticking up from the ground portends more plants to follow. (They are also supposed to be delicious when cooked, but since this is a scavenger hunt occurring in a public park, please leave them for the next visitor). 

Lilac

You’ll probably smell them before you see them. There’s a reason lilac is dried and used in aeromatics year round, but—lucky us—we’re quickly approaching the season to experience the real thing. Those small, purple buds that smell like absolute bliss? That’s lilac. 

Maple tree

Sure, it’s at its peak in the fall when the leaves turn gold and red, but can you identify a maple before it’s leaves are in full bloom and it’s not producing any syrup? Now’s your chance to find out. 

Fungus

Mushrooms count, but the best fungus in my opinion grows on old tree stumps and boasts beautiful stripes.

Feature photo by Rebecca Tien.

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Health & Fitness

Former OSU Linebacker partners with local CBD Company

Julian Foglietti

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Former Ohio State University All-American linebacker, and NFL Fox analyst, Chris Spielman has announced a partnership with CBD Health Collection. Speilman was first introduced to the company while looking for solutions to his “nagging pain”, the result of injuries sustained throughout his football career. CBD Health Collection was founded in 2017 by Rick Bauer in conjunction with his son and daughter who run production and marketing respectively.

In conjunction with the new partnership, CBD Health Collection will be launching a Spielman branded line of CBD products targeted at former athletes and weekend warriors experiencing residual pain from sports. The new products will initially be available online as the company finalizes their retail distribution plans. 

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It’s no longer necessary to do squats outside of your gym, for now

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Gym rats rejoice! Those who’ve been missing the arduousness of wiping down salty equipment after each use or hoping that they come across some top-secret CIA information on the lockerroom floor are in luck.

Since the closing of all non-essential business on March 24, gyms have been void of protein shakes and Affliction t-shirts. Following a court order on Tuesday, workout facilities are now allowed to open their doors earlier than the previous May 26 ruling. Those who were adamant about getting leg day in while also exercising their first amendment rights will no longer have to do so outside of gym complexes.

Lake County Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci ruled on Tuesday that state and county health officials, including Ohio Director of Public Health Dr. Amy Acton and the Lake County General Health District, won’t be able to take any action against fitness facilities violating the original reopening date. This comes following a complaint filed by The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law on behalf of 35 Ohio gyms, including Columbus’ Ohio Strength.

The general public would be harmed if an injunction was not granted. There would be a diminishment of public morale and a feeling that one unelected individual could exercise such unfettered power to force everyone to obey," Lucci wrote in the injunction

"The public would be left with feelings that their government is not accountable to them. Prolonged lockdowns have deleterious effects upon the public psyche."

When Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced several opening days this past Thursday, guidelines that gyms would have to follow to remain open were also outlined. Gyms, fitness centers, and dance studios must keep employees and clients six feet apart, which also includes equipment. Upon entering these facilities, everyone will be asked to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. 

Fitness facilities will not be asked to close if they follow these guidelines.

This doesn’t mark the end of the lawsuit, though. Restrictions placed on fitness centers are being temporality lifted while the case makes its way through the court system. A successful lawsuit, however, could mean that gyms could sue the state for lost income.

“The ruling by Judge Eugene Lucci of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas explains that private property rights are fundamental rights in Ohio, and that the Ohio Department of Health has both violated those rights and exceeded its own authority,” according to a statement from Cincinnati-based Finney Law Firm.

Photo by: WKYC Channel 3
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Pelotonia launches virtual program for 2020 event

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For the past 12 years, Pelotonia has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research with an annual three-day bicycle race. Due to current social distancing measures, riders will not be able to gather this year to trek across central and southern Ohio.

The non-profit cancer research organization, though,  has found a way to allow riders to participate virtually. Launching on June 2, My Pelotonia will allow participants to set their own fundraising and biking goals for the year in place of the three-day event. A fundraising requirement will not be required. 

“While so much has recently changed, the need for critical research funding and the goal of Pelotonia has not,” said Doug Ulman, Pelotonia President and CEO.

“My Pelotonia will be an experience that is more inclusive and personal with more ways to engage and participate than ever before.”

My Pelotonia is also encouraging families to participate. To make this more possible, Pelotonia has waived registration fees and an age requirement. The fundraising deadline has also been extended until October 31.

The program is also encouraging people to not just exercise on their bikes. Running, walking, and volunteering are just some of the activities that count toward a rider’s personal goal.

In lieu of the traditional Pelotonia Opening Ceremony, a live broadcast celebration will be held on August 7.

100 percent of every dollar raised will go toward providing critical funds for cancer research at the OSUCCC-James.

Photos by Pelotonia


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