Picnics, hiking, dog romps or simply lying dormant beneath a fat, shady tree are all glorious activities or an extended holiday weekend.

See the glorious landscape folks miss when they stay inside?/Ryn Gargulinski

See the glorious landscape folks miss when they stay inside?/Ryn Gargulinski

Unless you’re in Tucson.

For some strange reason, many picnic spots, hiking trails and even the fat, shady trees were largely empty over the Memorial Day weekend.

Neither the weather nor the landscape is to blame, as Tucson is notoriously beautiful with both. Sure, some folks had to work, others left town and still others probably had to catch up on the mounds sleep we lack in this workaday world.

But what about the rest of them?

My holiday weekend included no fewer than four picnics – one smack dab in the middle of Reid Park on a Saturday – at least three hikes, several glorious dog romps and yes, plenty of lying dormant beneath those fat, shady trees.

Yet few people were out enjoying similar activities. That’s not the way I remember it. The holiday weekend that kicks off the summer used to bring people out swarming in droves.

Believe me, I am not complaining. Fewer people means less noise, less litter and less chance of being accosted by angry music shooting from a portable radio.

It also offers less of a chance of ending up, as my once friend did, next to a family of 22 who brings a power generator, movie screen and projector to watch movies all night at a wilderness campsite.

No, not complaining at all. But intensely curious.

The most obvious answer is our town is stocked with vampires. This theory is in jest, of course, and could not be true for at least two reasons: 1. There is way too much black clothing still available at thrift stores and 2. There are too many people still driving around in the light of day. Maybe they really are driving around going nowhere.

The hypothesis that people fear the sun – or the outdoors in general – still holds water. We are told everything from UV rays to ozone will kill us. Don’t forget further fears of those nasty germs sure to be lurking on public picnic tables and grills or the diseases we may get from touching thing like public water fountains.

It’s a virtual cancer zone out there.

A third theory, which seems most likely, is that we really have become an indoor society. Venturing into the great outdoors is not so great when it disconnects us from our creature comforts.

After all, some outdoor areas are remote enough to – gasp – cut off cell phone service. Egads. And not many park pavilions offer wireless Internet connections.

Besides, leaving the house would mean leaving the TV. We wouldn’t want the American average of watching TV at least four hours each day dip in any way while we are out enjoying the sunshine.

That would be a fate worse than death – or at least as bad as all those germy picnic tables.

Reid Park picnic: Andrew Ulanowksi with daughter Andrea (left), Jenna Loomis with Dante, Deb Ross with Scout/Ryn Gargulinski

Reid Park picnic: Andrew Ulanowksi with daughter Andrea (left), Jenna Loomis with Dante, Deb Ross with Scout (Jenna baked the cookies)/Ryn Gargulinski

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What do you think?

Do you notice few people at your favorite picnic and hiking spots?

What’s your theory on what seems to be the lack of enjoyment for the great outdoors?

When was the last time you went on a picnic?

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What do you think?