Time for the outdoors

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

When the sun once more begins to warm the earth after the frigid winter, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy it again.

Humans weren’t meant to spend their lives indoors. If we were, sunlight wouldn’t be among the ways our bodies take in vitamin D.

Last weekend, our family discovered a new destination for just this time of year — and it’s even better for history buffs.

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Fort Boykin isn’t in Suffolk, but it’s close by in Isle of Wight County. It’s on the James River and was established in the 17th century to guard against raiding Spaniards and attacking Indians.

While it was an important military encampment in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, when the atmosphere may have been less conducive to recreation and quiet reflection, the fort today is a good place to get away from it all without driving too far.

Now operated by Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation, the 18-acre fort offers nature, without many of nature’s perceived drawbacks such as lack of amenities and distance from civilization.

You can picnic there on sheltered tables, learn about the history with several informative signs and see Virginia’s second-oldest black walnut tree.

Another good thing about the fort is that it’s friendly to dogs. It also has a sheltered beach.

We didn’t take our dog on Sunday, but we plan to take her there soon to experience it for herself.

Yesterday and today, we have been plunged back into some semblance of winter weather. But warmth is clearly on the comeback trail. While a high of 49 degrees is predicted for Suffolk for Sunday, it’s going to be in the 60s the following weekend.

Before the humidity rolls back in and the mercury climbs to staggering heights, it’s the time of year to get motivated and explore our natural surroundings.

Fort Boykin is just one of many potential destinations for day-trippers from Suffolk. The Great Dismal Swamp, Bennett’s Creek Park, Sleepy Hole Park, Lone Star Lakes Park and, again in Isle of Wight, Windsor Castle Park, are all places that are within easy reach for folks in Suffolk looking to spend a bit of time outside.