Here’s what I do for a little relaxation: I stare at maps. My summer research is a bit constrained right now, so I’ve been planning alternatives, like making day-trips to neglected local spots to do spider-hunting. I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of spiders is limited — I know a fair bit about a few species that live in the niches I’ve concentrated on, but relatively little about a lot of species that are in other environments. I need to correct that.
So I’ve been looking at maps and planning lovely little trips. My wife and I will pack the car with a picnic lunch, collecting tubes, my camera, and a drone (for scouting out locations), we’ll dress in long pants and long sleeves and boots, douse ourselves with DEET, and take off in the morning for a leisurely drive with frequent stops. We’ll look for parks and lakes and streams and abandoned farms and tromp around looking for spiders, photographing many, capturing a few, and heading back home in the late afternoon.
It sounds delightful to me. Right now all I can do is look at maps and plan these jaunts until I get all my grades submitted and recover my faithful companion, but it’s nice, and perfect for the pandemic season, because I plan to avoid people and visit places that spiders would like, and spiders don’t carry the virus. I look at the roads and the satellite views that reveal brushy areas where no one in their right mind would want to go — well, some of them might look great to hunters and fisherpeople, and that’s OK, I can share — and look forward to getting dirty and scratched and bug-bitten.
My original plans for the summer were a bit more lab-centered, and I still have some lab projects to maintain, but I’ve been thinking about how to adapt to our new circumstances, and I think I can find happiness in a summer in the weeds.