Rooster crowing a rustic aubade
Rising sun burning rose through the mist
Quiet freshness of the woods at dawn
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To celebrate Labor Day, Mr. M and I planned to meet my sister and her fiancé for breakfast at one of our favourite cafés in Madison (Manna Café and Bakery, which also figured in this post). Good food is a wonderful incentive for riding, so I thought I'd take the bike and meet everyone there.
Our breakfast appointment is set for 10 am. The café is 31 miles away, but I want to take a longer ride than that, so I've worked out a roundabout route which will add the requisite mileage.
I'm up before dawn and on the road by 5:30. (This leaves me plenty of time for breaks and pictures.) The early morning air is cool, damp and fresh. Venus - or possibly Jupiter - shines brightly in the eastern sky, and a silver moon rides above me.
Though it's dark when I leave, within 45 minutes the sky begins to be light enough for photos. A faint blush appears in the east; goldenrod and other flowers, grey in the dawn, are slowly taking on their daytime colours.
An hour into the ride, there's a distinct rosy flush on the eastern horizon...
...while the western sky is the softest lavender. The moon is waning gibbous (doesn't that sound exotic and mysterious?), and preparing to retire gracefully.
All at once, it seems, the sun is up. I'm lucky enough to be passing this lake just after it rises, in time to snap its fiery reflection:
A mile or so later, and I'm riding through waking woods. A rooster crows his morning song somewhere to my right, and a flock of geese passes low overhead. (Do they have the day off too?)
The moon is so fair and bright that I take its photo again:
The rosy light of dawn makes this barn seem a deeper red:
Shadows are long and lovely at this time of day...
...and in some cases just plain long.
Somehow the moon (and my shadow) keep sneaking into my photos.
A crow sits on a bare branch, making his plans for the day:
I pass a beautiful stand of trees made golden by the low-shining sun. The moon hangs like a solitary pearl above them:
A small barn stands guard over the morning road.
Moon again, with grapevine this time...
And another shadow shot, with September soybean fields stretching away to the horizon:
I pass a donkey with soft ears and sweet eyes.
My road to Madison is a roundabout one - it dips and curves through miles of farmland.
Because the air is so moist today, it's hard to get clear photos. But this shot of a grain mill came out fairly well:
Grain mills fascinate me. They seem a bit like Legos on a giant scale.
I like the shadow of a tree that is cast on the large white door in the photo above.
There are plenty of picturesque barns on today's ride. The one below has lost quite a bit of siding - perhaps it was stripped off and sold by the owner. (Barn boards are very popular for decorating and furniture making.)
A slice of Americana - I look across the fields to see a tractor at work, a small white church, and another feed mill:
Would you like some dust with that corn?
(Perhaps this is why I sneezed the rest of the day.)
Here's a handsome set of barns and silos:
It may be a national holiday, but the harvest won't wait. A large tractor passes me, hauling its load to the next grain mill:
(I saw more grain mills today than I've ever seen in one ride. I think there were 5 in a 15-mile stretch.)
The road sweeps past cornfield after cornfield...
...and finally ends in a Madison suburb. Though country roads are infinitely to be preferred, suburban roads do have some definite advantages: smooth pavement and bike lanes.
Less than 5 miles to go, and I'm nearing the airport. I manage to snap one plane taking off (but miss the exciting F-16 which roars over a few minutes later):
Hunger keeps my camera in my pocket for the rest of the ride. I arrive early at the café, and am soon joined by the others. Mr. M has brought me a bag of clean clothes (packed last night), which will allow me to doff my sweaty Lycra and enjoy breakfast in more seemly attire. (Cycling clothes must surely be among the least attractive of sporting raiment.)
My sister's eyes light up when she sees gluten-free cake in the bakery case - celiac disease has made good cake a rare event in her life.
My eyes light up when my breakfast arrives, featuring this wonderful Spinach Swirl Scramble:
(Spinach, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese scrambled into creamy, just-set eggs. Bacon and toast sit humbly by, but the eggs take pride of place.)
Our breakfast is long and leisurely, full of good food and good conversation. I do like going out to breakfast, much more than going out to dinner. When we leave, relaxed and satisfied, we carry baked trophies to be enjoyed later.
A very good ride indeed, with a delicious finish. Happy Labor Day to all my fellow Americans.
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*This is the longest bike ride I've ever taken. I think I earned my breakfast. :)