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 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.
What you see depends on where you look. Frieda and I repeatedly ride to the same few places, for the most part. But I manage to see new things each time. Yesterday, we went to a city park where I’ve taken several photos in the past. But none look exactly like the ones I got yesterday. All of the photos below were shot from the same spot, but looking in different directions.
For one, I turned away from the creek and the natural landscape, pointing my camera toward the city instead. A little shot of Americana.
Facing the other way, you might not know there was an urban area so close.
I rode in the evening and stayed until I looked up and saw the lamp signaling me it was time to get home while I could still see and be seen.
The waters have finally receded around here, with trails opened up once again. I’m proud of myself for getting up early, after only three alarms, and setting out with *Frieda before it got too hot to ride.
We took the Wetlands trail today, and saw lots of pond scum — er, filamentous green algae. It’s beautiful in its own way. Here’s an informational page about it from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Turns out it floats because of bubbles it produces. And it’s a healthy part of the ecosystem, as long as it doesn’t take over everything.