Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sunny, Hot, and Hilly Ride

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Trees leafing out as though they mean it
Honeysuckle's pale pink torches
Warm sun beating down on my back

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Sunday is clear and sunny, and actually hot - perfect weather for a Memorial Day weekend. There's just enough breeze to set the trees whispering in voices that have returned with the spring.

A few miles out of town, dark branches of oak are frilled with bright yellow-green:

Though spring was late in coming, wildflowers are taking advantage of the warmth and making up for lost time. Dame's Rocket is just beginning to bloom....

The pale pink torches of honeysuckle are lighting up the hedges and sending drifts of sweetness through the air:

I stop for a photo of fresh new maple (what was I thinking?) pin oak leaves:

At my feet are blooming the first meadow anemone and wild geranium:

Several feet away is this rather alien-looking mystery plant:

Is it a fern or a wildflower-to-be? Hard to say.

I am treating myself to a long leisurely ride that includes all the hilliest roads I can think of. A few miles on, at the top of the first hill, is an apple tree in full bloom:


Down the hill, across the valley, and up the next hill, to a farm where every wooden fencepost sports an American flag:

On the next hill, I see the first wild columbines of the year:

(Somehow my leg keeps getting into the photos.)

Many miles on, I pass a field where Highland cattle graze. This one watches calmly as I take its photo:

(At least I think it's watching - hard to tell whether its eyes are open or shut behind that shaggy fringe.)

I've been riding on the high prairie for some miles now, out in the sun and wind. I really need to stop for a snack, but would prefer to eat in the shade. I pull off the road, where a lane leads to an empty field, and look around me for a likely spot. Ahead and behind are the open road; to my left are some shady trees. And when I look back towards the field, I see that it's no longer empty:

A young deer has wandered into the open and is staring at me. I slowly reach for the camera and even more slowly take a few photos...

...until the deer decides it's seen enough and turns to spring away.

The lane is damp, with too many buzzing bugs for me to linger, so I cross the road and eat my snack in the shade of a large tree.

The bank below is brown with last year's leaves and acorns, and green with grass and False Solomon's Seal:

I finish my snack, get back on the bike, and just a few hundred yards up the road see this:

Wouldn't you like to go through the gate and follow the trail between the trees? I know I would.

All this time Tallulah has been content to stay in her basket. She doesn't want to pose on the gate or climb onto any flowers.

"Why so timid today, Tallulah?" I ask.

"I'm still a bit shell-shocked from the accident," she replies.

(I never know if Tallulah's puns are intentional or not; she produces them with such a straight face.)

Portrait of Tallulah with shadow shot of me:

Miles later, having climbed all our hills, we take one last photo - of flowering crab in glorious bloom along the side of our road home:

A beautiful ride on a hot Spring day.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tallulah Makes a Big Announcement

Hello everybody. Tallulah the Turtle here. Seeing as Mrs. M has been a little distracted lately, I've decided to take things into my own hands - er, legs - and tell you all something you really ought to know.

Some of you may remember that last year Mrs. M and I went to Colorado for a Very Special Ride called Bike MS. We had a great time in Colorado, riding with Snowcatcher and her husband the Lizard. We saw beautiful mountains, and met lots of other cyclists (but no turtles). We ate lots of great snacks and rode a lot of miles. We even got a cool sticker for our bike:

But there was something more important than the sticker and the snacks and the mountains and the miles. Something WAY more important.

By participating in Bike MS, we raised money to help people with Multiple Sclerosis.

And this year we're going to do it again. Yippee!

(Mrs. M says that's easy for me to say, since all I do is ride along while she does the work. I don't think she realizes how much moral support I provide.)

This year's Bike MS takes place on June 28-29. How far will we ride? About 140 miles, we hope (give or take a few).

So why am I telling you this? Because Mrs. M needs more than moral support to be part of Bike MS 2014. She needs donations to help her qualify for the ride. (This is where you come in.)

If you'd like to help Mrs. M (and me) fight Multiple Sclerosis, click on the "Bike MS" button below or in the sidebar. This will take you to Mrs. M's Bike MS donation page. When you get there, click on the blue button under her photo to make your donation.

Just so you know, every donation goes straight to programs,
services, and research to help people with MS.
Even if something prevents us from riding,
your donation will still be fighting MS.

Even a dollar helps, and every dollar counts.

And that's my Big Announcement. Thank you all for reading. :)

This is Tallulah the Turtle, signing off.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting Back on the Horse (well, Bicycle)

Friday I got my stitches out, and Saturday I got back on the bike. (With some trepidation, it must be admitted).

It's beautiful riding weather. With Spring now more or less firmly established (though we still had a few near-freezing nights last week), the blossoms we didn't get in April are finally popping out now in May.

A few miles out of town, a wild plum stretches a flower-decked arm to the sky:

We pass a patch of white violets, and stop for photos. Tallulah climbs onto my rim for a whiff:

Just around the corner, an Allegheny Serviceberry peeps shyly out from the edge of the woods:

Its blossoms are rosy-hearted and lovely:

"How about a dandelion photo?" says Tallulah. "Dandelions are flowers too."

I'm stopping for photos every chance I get, because my arm is hurting and I'm feeling teary and vulnerable on the bike. Though it seems ridiculous to feel this way, I can't seem to shake it.

But there's beauty all around, in the new-leaved trees and the peaceful winding streams:

And flowering trees send sweetness drifting through the air.

I tell myself that Sunday's ride will be better.

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And so it turns out to be - much better in every way. The weather is still beautiful, the gloom has lifted from my spirits, and my arm hardly aches at all on this ride. :)

A favourite barn looks cheerily red, with green grass below and blue sky behind:

This little shed makes regular appearances on my blog:

There's something charming about its rusty roof, weathered boards, and vine-hung front. Every year it sags a little more, and someday I know it will collapse - but when it does I will have plenty of photos to remember it by.

Tall trees, blue sky, a bicycle, and empty roads - what could be better?

Like Marianne Dashwood, I am "feeling all the happy privilege of country liberty, of wandering from place to place in free and luxurious solitude."

Iris rests against a bridge...

...while I wander down the bank for a shot of these Marsh Marigolds (or kingcups):

It's a lovely spot.

A mile or two up the road, I spy a new-to-me apple tree at the edge of the woods, on a high bank above the road. I park the bike and clamber up for some photos.

The apple tree is just coming on to bloom:

Its beauty of blossom and bud, leaf and branch, is beyond words. The sight fills my soul with deep, quiet joy; like Anne of Green Gables, I can lay my hand on my breast and say "It just satisfies me here." (And like Annie of Knitsofacto, I can rejoice in a new apple tree on my mental map.)

At the foot of the apple tree grow some tiny, ghostly flowers which I've never seen before:

They grow on a tall stalk; I will look them up when I get home. (I forget completely to do this. Will have to identify them another time.)

Across the road the verge is literally carpeted with violets:

In a week or so there will be lilacs on this road as well. I do like Spring. :)

One last flower shot, of wild mustard vividly yellow against the pale blue sky:

A few miles later I'm home and feeling much more cheerful about being back on the bike.

Two rides - the first very uncomfortable, the second much better - both full of Spring loveliness. I am grateful.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Green and Growing

Since riding is temporarily of the question for me*, Mr. M and I took a short drive Sunday to some nearby public hunting and fishing grounds, where we did a little exploring on foot.

The sky was grey with impending rain, but nearer ground level there were plenty of bright colours to be seen.

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These upthrusting leaves remind me of shuttlecocks:

An old tree trunk is frilled with mushrooms:

On the ground under an oak tree lie remnants of autumn past...

...while the branches above are bursting into rosy life:

Wild grasses, still buff-coloured, are another reminder of autumn...

...but the trail is green under greening trees.

Old blossoms hover over new vine leaves:

Grey branches reach up to the grey sky:

More miracles of spring, rosy and green:

A field next to the trail is vividly emerald:

Sticky leaf buds glow like fairy lights on branch tips:

And all the evergreens are putting out new needles:

Like a fashion show ending with a wedding dress, our walk ends with a glimpse of woodland white. Near the end of the trail a serviceberry blooms, bridal and delicately lovely:

A good walk on a cloudy spring Sunday.

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*Many thanks to all who expressed kind wishes for my recovery after I was hit by a car while riding last week. The pain is much better, though the bruises remain very tender and colourful, and I hope to get the stitches out in a few days. I've been struggling with fatigue, and sleeping much more than normal, but that is also improving slowly. The next big steps will be getting back on the bike, and dealing with the driver's insurance company. (Not sure which will be harder!)

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