The Wide Angle: Clearly a man of extreme moderation

Published 6:30 am Saturday, July 11, 2020

Last week COVID-19 (quickly becoming the “dog ate my homework” of 2020) forced us to alter our vacation.

Gone was the opportunity of waking up to a glistening blue lake with a cup of coffee and the majestic call of loons. Instead, I was waking up to the tannish brown of I.J. Holton Intermediate School and the crying hunger pains of Nemi and Buster.

Try as I might, Nemi’s cries of wanting breakfast do not carry the same haunting melody of Minnesota’s state bird, but rather the screeching, rusted grinding of an unoiled wheel axle.

Not pictured: The huffing and puffing.

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Because, I can’t let you hear this joy, just imagine waking up to a tiny 13-pound version of the civil alert siren in your face.

Still, it was a week of, so we tried to make the best of it by attempting and succeeding at doing very little of anything else.

It wasn’t as much of a struggle as I thought it might be. Wake up, start coffee, fiddle about the garden, make some mead annnnnd commence to sit around and do nothing.

Turns out, I still remember the finer points of sophomore year in college.

That’s not to say we didn’t actually go out and do stuff and case in point — Whitewater State Park.

It wasn’t my first time as a few years earlier, myself and then intern Jora Bothun hiked the back end of the park with a mushroom hunter for Austin Living Magazine, which was an amazing experience.

Fast forward, me and my girlfriend, renewed our park pass and made use of the Whitewater’s amazing trails, complete with woods, bluffs and the Whitewater River itself. The park is an outdoor lover’s dream.

On Wednesday, we decided to head over and then mosey on over to Winona for a day of hiking and sightseeing.

Here’s the deal though: Whitewater and DNR are liars. Or maybe I just didn’t research enough, but I prefer they are liars.

It makes me look better.

Either way, I would like to discuss the meaning of moderate and why the determination that I’m completely out of shape.

We took, as the paragraph above has hinted, a “moderate” path that climbs the bluffs of Whiterwater offering two very nice scenic views of the park below. One of them sits you on a rocky overlook that’s particularly nice.

It should be said that we haven’t been hiking much as of late. Between work and COVID-19, we just haven’t gotten out as much and so I admit our hiking boots were rather free of mud as it were.

But we looked at the definition of the path: moderate. I thought to myself, “I’ve excelled at moderate or average my entire life.” Steady C-average in high school. Steady C-average in college, only moderately good looking and only moderately aware that math is indeed a thing I pretend to understand.

With that expert assessment of my moderateness, we opted to climb the moderate path and look down as majestically as possible on the world around us, which is a challenge when I’m of moderately good looks only.

Moderate, it turns out, is defined much differently by the DNR, hikers and people in better shape than we are.

Roughly about a third of the way up the fairly steep climb (on a humid day of course) we realized that moderate is rather ubiquitous in terms of what it really was and that it was fairly difficult for people who don’t do much climbing — or us.

I suddenly found myself comparing my struggles to that of Sir Edmund Hillary Tenzing Norgay as they crested the great heights of Mount Everest. Instead, we were happy to crest the “moderate” heights of Whitewater State Park, but we did it without oxygen, so there’s that.

Of course we asked ourselves the question, “if this is moderate, what’s difficult?” What kind of fool do you think I am?

Don’t answer that. If you do, I’m demoting you in the reader list.

Overall, once we got over the idea of being destroyed on a moderate path, the day has to be treated as a success. It was a pleasant day experience in a great environment that put off the screeching catcalls of hunger for a little bit.

When we got home, they were only moderately hungry.