Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lilacs and Piglets and Thunder (oh my!)

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Goslings floating four in a row
Piglets racing in crazy circles
Windborne whiffs of apple blossom

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We're having a warm and humid streak, with thunderstorms in the forecast for the next several days. It's 80º when Tallulah and I hit the road, and only a very strong south wind keeps things comfortable.

Tallulah is sporting her just-finished cycling helmet...


...for which she has been agitating a good while. "Why would you want a helmet when you have a perfectly good shell you can retract into?" I ask. "It's a safety issue," she replies.

"Helmets are over-rated," I say. "Didn't you see the article in the latest Bicycling magazine?"

"I don't read Bicycling magazine," says Tallulah. "I only read Shell Beautiful."

"You do know that a crocheted helmet offers zero protection," I say.

"I know - but I'll feel more like a real cyclist with a helmet. Pleeeeease will you make me one? Just think how cute I'll look" - here she bats non-existent eyelashes - "and how much fun we can have taking pictures of me wearing it."

"Okay, I give. What colour would you like?"

She chooses Jade from Planet Penny Cotton Club. ("So I can match Iris," she says.)

At the pond just outside town, we see four goslings paddling along between their proud parents. I debate whether to turn for a photo, but tell myself I'll get it on my way back. (I should know better.)

A few miles farther on, we stop for a wildflower shoot. An interesting plant is about to bloom, but I can't tell what it is:


White yarrow perhaps? The buds are all covered in a mysterious fuzzy substance. I'll keep an eye out for it on my training rides.

The next one I do know - wild mustard. It's dotting roadsides everywhere with happy colour, and competing with the rampant dandelions for brightness.


Around a few corners is our favourite willowy curve. A large flight of swallows is swooping and swirling back and forth, across the bridge and down to the water and up into the sky:



(They're much closer than they look in the above photo.)

As we tool along a favourite road, whiffs of apple blossom are carried along the wind. Wild plum has already come (and is nearly gone), and the apple blossom is only a few days old, but the heat and wind are taking their toll. We stop near a favourite apple tree to find the ground already littered with petals:


But some of the blooms are still on the tree:


Just up the road is my friend and coworker P's house. I stop, hoping for a glimpse of pig...


...and am rewarded by the sight of a male and female sleeping in the barnyard. This is a new breed, called Iowa Swabian Hall:


The male is very friendly and talkative. My friend P, who is mowing the lawn, stops to ask if I'd like to see the piglets.

Inside the barn are three sets of piglets (all are a cross of Iowa Swabian Hall with Red Wattle). One sow has a litter of fourteen, another a litter of about 7 or so (it's hard to tell because they won't stand still long enough to be counted).

A third batch are weanlings. A few of them let me take a photo...


...then suddenly they start running around and around their pen at an amazing rate of speed. (They seem to be getting a lot of fun out of it.)


All the pigs look healthy and happy, with large pens and plenty of straw to root around and bed in. Soon the weaned piglets will be moved out to pasture. (No crates for these lucky little pigs.)

Just up the road from P's house is a favourite lone oak (it marks the boundary of her land, and is a favourite with her as well):


We turn a corner, swoop down a little grade, and stop at a giant lilac bush out in the middle of nowhere. (The bush is so huge I can't get it all into one photo, unless I go way down the road.)

This is not the lilac bush - this is something growing at its feet and about to burst into bloom:


(Salsify, I think.)

Also growing here are violets...


...making this a perfect spot, in my book. (Any place lilacs and violets grow together is a good place.) :)

And now for the lilacs.



Tallulah is fascinated by the lush blooms...


...and seems to like their scent as much as I do.


One last long sniff, then it's back on the bike. We're riding through some gorgeous country, but the air is thickening steadily and the temperature is rising.

At the top of a hill, we stop so I can fix my braid (which is about to come loose), and find the very first wild columbines blooming right at our feet:


The blossoms are full of fluffy tree seeds (cottonwood, perhaps):


Above our heads is a lovely canopy of birch, the leaves whispering and chuckling in the wind:


It's getting hotter. A few miles on, our road leads through a lovely valley...


...full of Black Angus cattle. These are just a few of them:


Up a short grade, and we're out on the high prairie. The southern sky is growing steadily darker, and the wind has risen to a low shriek and is trying to push us off the road. Trees are groaning, making ominous cracking sounds. I start to think uneasily about thunderstorms.


One last photo stop...


...then we make tracks for home.

We turn briefly south, to find the dark clouds right in front of us.


Then our road turns west, and we're racing against the storm, with about 6 miles to go. We fly down the road with the wind (luckily) behind us. Thunder sounds, and the clouds begin to spit rain.

"Keep your head down, Tallulah - we're making a run for it!" I call.

"Don't worry - my head is as down as it can get," comes Tallulah's voice faintly. "You put me in your pocket upside down."

After the fastest 5 miles of my life (thunder is a great motivator), we reach the pond at the edge of town. The goslings are nowhere to be seen - they're probably safely tucked up under Mom, who is sitting on the grass.

The thunder is moving away now, to the east (whew), and in a few minutes we're home.

A good ride, though shorter than I had planned - but given the weather this is probably just as well.

Miles today: 27.5
Miles this year: 498.3

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42 comments:

  1. I loved your ride in the country side, Mrs. Micawber! Each and every picture tells a story, which you also beautifully illustrated with words! You shall write some short stories and publish them..I was just thinking it'd be so nice to read such (as the one above) to children.. :)
    Have a wonderful day!
    P.S. I LOVE the sky in the last picture...please send some rain to us - we are exhausted by heat here.

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    1. Thanks so much, Anna. A Tallulah book would be fun, wouldn't it? :)

      I hope you get some rain.

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    2. Yes, nam eis "Tallulah, A Purple Turtle"! :) and add different headings to different books :) hehe

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  2. T's helmet is perfect :-). And as you raced for home, I thought of Dorothy and Toto who were whirled away from Kansas before they learned "there's no place like home!" I'm glad you made it home safely, Sue!
    Gracie xx

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  3. Thank you for interesting tale with wonderful pictures! :)
    Tallulah with helmet... very nice!!!

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    1. Thank you - she looks very cute, I think. :)

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    1. Thank you - it's very tiny indeed, and I'm leaving it on her head for fear of losing it. :)

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  5. Lovely pictures! I too like the lilac amazing smell makes you happy.:)

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    1. Yes, very happy! And so special because they only come around for a week or two each year. Thanks Gail. :)

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  6. Love the helmet, oh and how I miss lilac's the smell, the color, oh my. We don't have the ability to grow them here, bummer.
    Hugs to you,
    Meredith

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    1. We didn't have them in California either, so I especially appreciate them here! :)

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  7. Looks like a good ride, I especially like the photos of the lilac, ours are almost ready to flower, can't wait, I have three well established bushes in the garden and have just planted a fourth...

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    1. Thanks Anne - this has turned out to be a great year for lilacs. :)

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  8. Hello Sue, WOW I love Tullulah new cycling helmet.. Tell him I think it is pretty cool... Wonderful photos on your bike ride today. My very favorite is the Lilac Bush blooming.. I love Lilacs.. Glad you made it home in the nik of time.. Hugs Judy

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    1. Thanks Judy! I'm glad I made it home too. :)

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  9. Seems like you have finally "warmed" up after the cold winter. Good wishes with you bike training. Wish we could bike here. These old rednecks would run us off the road ;)

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    1. Thanks Linda - I'll bet it's warmer where you are.... :)

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  10. such cute little piglets! And the male pig looks so funny peeping out to get his photo taken. :))
    Rosie xx

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    1. The smallest ones were even cuter, but I couldn't get any good pictures of them. Thanks Rosie. :)

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  11. Love the helmet. I enjoy your rides and my favorite pics are of the lilacs. I love them. They grew all over Mom's home town and they remeind me of days spent with my cousins, going to the park, walking to the newstand for candy and comics, those lazy summer vacation days.

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    1. What a nice memory - candy and comics. So nostalgic. Thanks Beth! :)

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  12. Tallulah looks divine in her new riding helmet. How cut e the piglets are. As to the lilacs, sigh, my favorite flowers and they just won't grow here.

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    1. Gosh, I thought Georgia had lilacs....

      Thanks Janet. :)

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  13. Lovely ride. Love the wee helmet for T. And the piglets - they are such fun animals. Juliex

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    1. They're nutty little things, but very smart and so fun to watch. :)

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  14. Talulah is making me laugh. THATS it my blog needs a mascot.

    Youve inspired me. but who???

    I LOve your country images...so peaceful

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    1. Thanks Kathy - and I think you should have a CAT mascot. Because your blog needs more cats.... :)

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  15. Beautiful photo's Sue what an interesting ride, I'm pleased that Tallulah persuaded you to make her a helmet especially if you keep putting her in your pocket upside down she will need all the protection she can get! :)

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  16. OOOOOOOOOh! Red columbine! I just melted! I love Tallulah's newest fashion accessory. She's such a little fashionista, and you could build a modeling portfolio for her with those lilac shots! I love that you saw so many babies. The pigs scooting are so precious!

    I avoid lightning like crazy, too. And I had to duck and pedal this morning. Rain for 20 miles...

    But it was a good ride, and I practically had the bike path to myself!

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    1. Ugh - that's a long time to be rained on ... and be splattering mud up your back. Hope you dried out okay for work!

      Having the bike path to yourself is always a bonus. :)

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  17. Sooooo cute. Almost too cute for words. You bring joy to my day. :-)

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  18. Hey SUe, I'm still back enjoying the Lilac and Violets.........Tallulah looks splendid in her helmet, gorgeous colours.
    How lovely to be smelling the Apple Blossom as you ride along and I love the stormy pic and inky blue skies, very dramatic.
    Cute piglets too, lots to see now the weather has warmed up.....

    Claire x

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    1. Yes indeedy - life is bursting out all over. It's wonderful. :)

      Thanks Claire!

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  19. Enjoyed the post as always. You live in a most interesting area - always fun things to see. Thanks for sharing. Ms T Turtle looks fabulous in her new helmet! Will she get bike gloves next?! Only kidding of course but with your needle/hook skills...8-)

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    1. Ssssh! Don't let her hear you say that or she'll start begging for those next.

      But we do have a basket in the works so she can ride up front.... :)

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  20. The bike helmet for Tallulah is so adorable! Gorgeous ride! Looks like Spring finally made it to your neck of the woods.

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    1. Thanks Trena - and yes, it's really Spring now! (Practically Summer.) :)

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  21. Tallulah was quite right about how cute she would look. Aren't you glad you listened to her? Plus it probably helped to keep any spitting rain off her head. She is quite lucky to get to go on all your travels. I never get to go anywhere. However, I do get Peanuts and that makes up for a multitude of transgressions.

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