Outdoors too big for a Top 10 list
The State Journal-RegisterS
Closing out 2011 isn’t complete without the annual Top 10 lists.
Critics, columnists, bloggers and anybody else with Internet access chimes in with their picks for the best movies, books, news stories, games, gadgets and gut-wrenching nightmares of the past year. Judging from the ones I’ve read, I’m probably no more unaware than I was last year.
In 2011, I saw about half the movies on many lists. I had never heard of the rest of them. I read four of the 10 best books. As usual, I remained so far behind the popular music curve that I thought Nickelback trotted onto the football field when it was third and 14. I’m not in the center of the so-called cultural mainstream, but I’m close enough to see which way the current moves.
Alternet.org says we like Top 10 lists because “they provide a shorthand summary of essential data, they present an at-a-glance mirror of contemporary life, (and) they reveal an intimate peek into what people are thinking or doing; using or buying; planning or reading.”
It’s been suggested that Top 10 lists stop at 10 because we only have 10 fingers. After that, counting becomes too complicated. I agree with another, more basic reasoning: More than 10 items would exhaust our attention span.
Top 10 lists don’t stop at the turnstiles. Among the Top 10 domestic pests of 2011 were bedbugs, mosquitoes, houseflies and mice. Mice rated especially high in households with elephants. Anyone with a daughter and a once well-stocked refrigerator would put teenage boys at Nos. 1 and 2 on their personal pest list.
My 2011 Top 10 list of the best of the outdoors died on the vine. I didn’t field-test 10 pieces of equipment, mainly because my old stuff suits me just fine. I did buy a new pair of boots, but they were identical to my old favorites. I didn’t formulate any new theories for finding a covey of quail, catching crappies, outsmarting a big buck or hunting coyotes. New theories, just like the old ones, work or not, depending on how fickle Mother Nature is that day. My groundbreaking dog-training efforts to teach Toby to trim bushes didn’t get past the kennel gate.
I spent a lot more than 10 days outdoors last year hunting, fishing, berry picking, target shooting, looking for morel mushrooms, watching hawks ride the thermals and just walking around. I kept tabs on the two spotted fawns that stopped by in the evening to visit my tomato plants. I saw a den of kit foxes get big and bold enough to do a little rodent hunting on their own.
I can’t list my 10 best outdoor days, because they were all good. Every time out, I saw something worth remembering.
During all of those activities, even in the rain, snow, sleet or howling wind, there was never a time I wished I were somewhere else.