We are in a two-day lull between brutal heat waves, so I seized the day and took a little bike ride this morning. I made a brief stop near a creek to drink some water (from my water bottle, not the creek) and heard an unmistakable sound, the first one in this video.
I’m not well acquainted with many birdcalls, but I do recognize a chickadee when I hear one. Has a more adorable looking bird ever existed? When I was pregnant with my second child, I started calling my baby Chickadee as a placeholder name until he was born. I don’t remember the reason I latched onto this particular nickname, but my fondness for the little critters remains.
I looked up when I heard the call. Aha!
I choose to believe it was calling out “Happy Juneteenth” in its own way.
Despite seasonal allergies, a slightly sore back, and the need to report to work this afternoon, I got out on my bike for a short ride this morning. I ended up at a wetlands area I frequent because there’s a nice shelter house, yet it’s at a spur off the main trail, so few people seem to stop there.
Thanks to a recent Facebook post from a friend, I realized this morning that there’s an abundance of poison hemlock growing there, and not harmless Queen Anne’s lace as I had always thought. I used the Seek app to verify the species. Since I don’t aspire to die like Socrates, I’m glad I never touched any back when I was misidentifying it!
One clear way to tell the difference between the two plants is the stem. Poison hemlock has smooth stems with purple spots. Queen Anne’s lace has hairy stems with no purple. I found a helpful article that provides more information.
Now you know. If you see this plant, make like anyone who is not Socrates and avoid it.
Unseasonably warm is becoming more the norm. It was 72 degrees F here today on Christmas Eve. Nothing for it but to hop on a bicycle. My husband, son-in-residence and I rode together far enough out of town that we had to dodge cow patties on the trail.
It was one of my longer journeys with Freida at nearly 13 miles round trip. After being sidelined for medical reasons earlier in the year, I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy in the hopes she and will be able to keep increasing our range.
It took a while, but I got back in the saddle this morning for the first time since my surgery in late August. Just a short jaunt with Freida to get my legs used to it again. I’ve been walking a lot, but not pedaling. Despite the need to rebuild my leg stamina, Freida and I enjoyed the perfect high fifties temperatures as we went to one of my favorite shelter houses overlooking a wetlands area.
If problem number one was my legs being out of shape, here was problem number two. We had a massive rainfall the night before last. Most of the trail was fine, but this part passing through a tunnel required me to get off and walk Freida through. No biggie. Our city Parks and Rec department usually clears up things like this pretty quickly and I’m sure it will be back in shape within a couple of days.
When I took those photos, I thought I was documenting the biggest problem I would encounter. But here’s an environmental one, though I didn’t realize it as I was snapping the picture.
After I got home, I was able to identify the plant in the foreground as common teasel, discovering it’s an invasive species in Missouri. Much bigger problem than rocks on the trail.
There was still a lot to enjoy in the view and I’m glad I made the effort. Look at that sky!
It’s thanks to this guy that I got out on my bicycle at all this morning.
When I crawled back into bed after getting up to use the bathroom, my husband reminded me of my stated intentions from last night. “It’s not too late to take a ride before the day gets hot.”
He even accompanied me to the lake that is my favorite cycling destination, about four miles from our house. And he humored me by letting me set the pace rather than taking off and leaving me in the dust. This is a person who has ridden his bike virtually every day for decades.
It might be awhile before my next ride. I have a minor medical procedure schedule later this week and will probably not be saddle-ready for at least a couple of weeks after that. But the lure of the bicycle will give me something to look forward to as motivation to follow all recovery instructions and take care of myself.
I haven’t been taking Freida out much lately due to some of my own minor health issues, combined with bad weather luck and other factors. Plus my first road trip in forever. I thought about it a lot. But when I finally had my act together enough for a ride, she received an unexpected diagnosis.
Trek Bikes sent me a letter saying she was in danger of losing her pedals. It’s happened to other bikes of the same type. So today I had to take her in for a pedal transplant.
I’m happy to say they were able to handle it on an out patient basis. I waited while they performed the procedure and then took her home right after.
Unfortunately, it was drizzling when we came home, so we couldn’t go out together right away. I had to go do some other errands, too. But we went for a spin after dinner. Of course, by then, it was so late, I had to race the sunset to get in even a brief ride. I didn’t stop to take any photos.
We had a shorter, but more intense trip than we’re used to. A quick three miles at what would be average speed for my husband or son, and was Indy 500 level for me. No coasting. All went well, with no pedal loss, even with me pumping them furiously.
Looking at the shiny new parts made me realize how much Freida needs a wash. Sorry I’ve neglected you, girl. I have to work tomorrow, but I will try to give the bike a good scrub on Sunday.
Here’s hoping Freida and I both stay healthy enough for more frequent rides.
Final note: Here’s more info on the recall for anyone who thinks their bike might be affected. The pedals in question are from Bontrager.
Frieda and I decided it was the perfect morning for a bike ride — temp in the 60s, sunny, with the slightest gentle breeze. We took one of our most commonly traversed trail routes to a small lake area.
Many family groups were out walking. Good thing I have this delightful little bell to let folks know when I’m about to pass.
I love the bell because there’s nothing clangy about it. It gives a cheerful and polite “excuse me” chime that sounds friendly. One of my small joys of life is that minor interaction when I’m coming up behind a trail walker and put my thumb to the bike bell, then see the person acknowledge it with a tiny wave.
Also on the trail today were many dogs making sure their humans were getting fresh air and exercise. So many good doggos. Maybe some of them were heading to the dog park on the other side of the lake from where I stopped to rest and hydrate. I heard lots of excited barking carrying across the water.
Near my take-a-break bench a man sat in a camp chair with a fishing rod propped next to him, line dropped into the water. He didn’t appear to care whether anything was biting as he relaxed with his fingers interlaced behind his head in the ultimate no worries posture. I wanted to take a photo of him, but didn’t because I couldn’t get an angle without his face and decided I should respect his privacy. I’m sharing that he was there just so I can say that the amount of relaxation and peace he was generating felt contagious. Maybe seeking inner peace really does help the world around us.
Here’s Frieda, propped against the bench where we lingered to take in the scene for a while.
I did a quick internet search to see if I could find any information on the Frank Patton who is memorialized on the plaque, but didn’t come up with anything. It’s nice that somebody wanted to remember him in a way that provides something good for the community.
We had to take it a little slow on the trail section that loops the lake:
Whether or not you celebrate Easter, I hope all my readers are having a beautiful day. If the weather allows where you are, I highly recommend some outdoors time as a personal health measure.
I put on blinders to everything that needs to be done at home and went out for a bike ride with Frieda this morning before the temperature reminded me too harshly that it’s still summer. Like most everyone right now, I find it a constant effort to manage my stress levels. I would love to go camping and spend a few days unwinding, but that’s not possible at the moment. So I take what micro-breaks I can get — sitting on the deck for a few minutes in the evening with a mocktail (I don’t drink much alcohol) and some music, or finding a less-traveled spur of the MKT Trail where I can be “away from it all” for a couple of minutes, right in the city.
The illusion of being out of the city:
On the main trail, an interesting rock with an interesting puddle in an indentation.
In an effort to learn more about the rock, I took an accidental selfie. In case you can’t read the print, the rock is several million year old limestone. I wonder how many other creatures have stopped to look at it throughout the millennia.
This tree was here long before George Washington was born.
Poor Frieda was left at home when I went out to ride today. My husband makes a weekly bicycle pilgrimage to what locals call the Big Tree. Today, I invited myself along. He dusted off our 30-year-old Burley tandem, Tandy, and we took it. It’s the only way I can keep up with him.
We’ve nearly sold good old Tandy a time or two, and she’s spent long periods of time in storage. I’m glad we still have her, though.
Here’s the Big Tree, a 400-year-old (more or less) bur oak at McBaine, Missouri.
Spouse included for scale in this one.
Some close-up photos of tree parts:
Think about it. This tree was here long before George Washington was born. I imagine it’s seen some things.
We had six inches of snow here nine days ago. Today, the temperature reached 68 degrees. The hubs and I took a leisurely bike ride together, and I was comfortable wearing leggings with a short-sleeved t-shirt. Many spots on my usual riding trail are soggy from snow melt, so we ambled around a little through town and the nearly-deserted university campus where the spousal unit works at his paid employment.
Everything about the day felt odd, from the weather to the dearth of people where there are usually crowds. I managed to stave off apocalyptic thoughts and feelings enough to enjoy the outing. It was relaxing, not having to worry much about traffic, as we saw only a handful of other folks out and about in that part of the city.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! To everyone else, wishes of peace and joy.