Frozen beauty of frost-burnt lotus
Tall pines singing with southern breezes
Ghosts of summer glimpsed in bare branches
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After a week of raw, grey November weather, the weekend is unseasonably warm. Thunderstorms are forecast for Sunday, so Saturday is cycling day. A necessarily short ride - squeezed in between a morning of housework and a late-afternoon movie and dinner date with friends - means that pictures will be few.
The temperature is an almost soupy 60º, and a stiff south wind is blowing when I hit the road. Our village boasts a good-sized lake, but my normal cycling routes rarely take me past it, so today I decide to ride around the lake for a change. Houses line the shore for the first several miles, but here and there are some open spots.
View from a bridge of the lake's northern arm:
Can you spot the cyclist? This was the only shadow shot I could get today:
From the other side of the bridge, looking southwards into the sun:
Several miles on, at the next open bit of shore, a host of water lotus have been burnt brown by frost. (The last time I passed this way, they were creamy-yellow and glowing in the sun.)
A late-autumn ride has always something of the valedictory about it. Everywhere I go, I'm reminded of earlier rides, when the year was younger than it is now. Past the lake, and heading out of town, I see bare wild plum trees and remember the glory and sweetness of their blossom in spring. A grassy verge, now faded and dry, was once covered in clouds of Bouncing Bet, all pale and pinky-white. The silent marshes, edged with drying cat-tails, once rang with froggy love-songs and sparkled with golden heliopsis, red clover, purple rocket. The grass withers, and the blossom fades, as the days die down with the year. (sigh)
I pass a small quarry. The road to it is blocked by a gate, the posts of which are made from solid tree trunks. Here's a detail of the gatepost and chain:
Further on, the road is lined with rank upon rank of pines. The warm southern wind is singing through their green branches, stirring up their spicy scent, making it hard to believe we're on the downhill slide to winter.
Around a few corners, and I'm on the northbound road, flying along with the wind behind me. One last stop on a bridge which looks out over sapphire water and pale-gold marsh grasses:
While taking the above photo, I notice something sticking up above the trees on the far side of the marsh. A very spiffy deer stand, by the looks of it, complete with siding and contrasting window trim:
Then it's back on the bike and headed for home. A combine is trundling towards me, so I snap it on the fly:
A few minutes later, I'm home - wishing the ride could have been longer, and feeling like I haven't taken nearly enough photos. So I stop under the ash tree in the driveway for a shot of bare branches against the blue autumn sky...
...then pause at the doorstep for a fond picture of my still-thriving tomato vine...
...and the luxuriant clump of parsley beneath it.
This short warm spell won't last - we're in for some very chilly temps over the next few days. It's time to give up my bit of garden, and put away the blankets and tarps that have been keeping the plants alive. On Sunday I will pick all the tomatoes that can be picked, and pack them away safely to ripen in the dark. The last of the fresh basil will adorn our Sunday breakfast eggs, and the parsley will go into a bag in the freezer. I'll say goodbye to the marigolds and thyme, hoping to see them again in the spring.
At this time of year, every ride is a bonus. Saturday's ride, though short, was a good one.
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