A fox running down a country road
Trees flying tiny pennants of spring
Amorous frogs whistling at passing girls
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Boisterous in so many ways - the wind (gusting up to 28 mph); the frogs (singing their little hearts out in any water available); the birds (sparrows and robins, geese and sandhill cranes, blackbirds, cardinals, orioles, quail, and a very large hawk to name a few); the sky - soft grey, spring blue, and deep azure, with large fluffy clouds that give the world assurance of clouds; and, to top it all off, the sheer exuberance of green life exploding from twigs and branches and roadsides everywhere. After a week of temperatures in the 70s, spring is busting out all over. (Today it's almost 80. Unbelievable.)
At the edge of the village, catkins are tossing in the wind like so many fuzzy caterpillars:
I think I see pollen. No wonder Mr. M has been sneezing.
Twigs have lost their svelte outlines, and are sporting interesting leafy bumps.
Gorgeous buds, full of new life.
This tree still bears last year's dark berries.
I see clouds of pale green catkins...
...with tiny flowered tips.
These pussy willows are soft enough to make a bunny jealous. I love the tiny green leaves and the rosy buds.
This tree's grey catkins, normally pendent, are blowing sideways in the stiff wind...
...and looking rather ghostly.
My favourite willows have green fronds now.
Up the road, flocks of geese are relaxing by a marsh. Having successfully delivered spring, they're enjoying a well-earned rest. (Fuzzy picture due to snapping while cycling.)
Blackbirds are everywhere (except close enough for a clear shot).
Last week, this tree stood guard over a brown field, but the brown has been edged out by the green.
A royal progression of clouds.
The statutory shadow shot.
Here's something I don't get to see very often: a fox. He came out of a field and onto the road a hundred yards or so ahead of me and starting running for all he was worth, straight down the road. I tried to get a good shot, but it's difficult to break into a sprint AND pull a camera out of a back pocket, turn it on, focus, and zoom. (I'm happy to have caught even this blurry image.)
Every so often he would look over his shoulder to see if I was still following. (I was.) He eventually turned off the road into a sort of mini-quarry where he no doubt went to earth. The mini-quarry was situated just next door to a very nice farm with a large chickenhouse. I wonder how often he gets chicken for dinner?
Some miles on, a freshly-painted barn.
I pass into wooded country and see this dark stream winding beneath the trees next to the road.
A few curves later, I come to this quilt barn (which featured in one of last year's cycling posts).
Just across from the quilt barn starts a belt of impossibly green fields and hills. (Impossibly green considering that it's still technically winter here.)
A sandhill crane stalks through the pasture to my left. Somehow he always manages to hide his head behind a branch just when I'm snapping a picture.
Flocks of his brethren are wheeling overhead, riding on the wind.
I turn onto a road that's new for me and can't resist another shadow shot. The road turns out to be very hilly and curvy...
...and on my way down one of the hills, I see a very large hawk perched in a tree just next to the road. I take the best picture I can on the fly (he's the blob in the lower right corner).
Back on level ground, I pass a very strange-looking field. I can't figure out what those plants are, so I park the bike and hike out to see...
...sunflowers. They droop rather elegantly against the charming spring sky.
As I head back to my bike, a flock of geese across the road panics and flies off, protesting volubly.
I still have about 10 miles to go, and the day is drawing in. No more photos for several miles, until I reach a favourite marshy corner. The sun is shining temptingly on the water so I stop for a shot...
...then put my head down for a mile or two more, until this small flock of blackbirds tempts me to pull out the camera again.
One last stop, at a large marsh a few miles from home, where the frogs are singing louder than ever:
I'm lucky enough to have a strong tailwind the rest of the way, and fly home in style pushing a respectably large gear. (Tailwinds are great for the cycling ego, especially at the end of a ride. They make you feel that you're in better shape than you really are.)
A very good ride, full of beauties large and small, plenty of wildlife, fresh air, and some satisfying climbs.
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