Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Boisterous Ride & the Three Great Things

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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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  1. Wow, where does one start? Fantastic post my dear!! :)

    So, frogs? Sounds so much like birds!!

    Love your poem and pictures so much!! The droopy sunflower is, I think my very favorite followed closely by...everything else!!

    Do you seriously live by a village?? ...sigh....I'd love to live in or near a village!! My dream village is Port Isaac in North Cornwall (Doc Martin's Port Wenn!!)

    Last but not take pics while riding?? You rock!!! :)

  2. Great pics, especially your favourite marshy spot one, the shining light is sparkly and lovely.

    On my way out yesterday, I had to turn back as there was a fox sat among our few days old lambs...these are normally quite safe, but a ewe lambing at the time would be very vulnerable, as our old ladies all decided that they wanted to be out, not in the shed it means they are easy pickings.

    Have a lovely week.

  3. What a gorgeous post :-).

    A thing I've always wondered about your part of the world where winters are (usually) hard - does spring happen really quickly? Blink-and-you-miss-it-and-straight-on-to-summer sort of thing?

    1. Thanks Peeriemoot! Our springs are usually long-drawn out affairs, long anticipated and reluctant to arrive. It's not at all unusual to get snow and frosts in April, sometimes even in May. What we're experiencing right now is definitely not normal but we're enjoying it as much as we can. (People are worrying that this weather portends a scorching hot summer.)

  4. A lovely post but the video wasn't working...

    1. It was working fine last night, but now it won't play for me either. I'll try to fix it.

  5. Beautiful! Riding into a headwind is so much worse than you think it will be, but when you get to the tailwind on the way back you just fly.

  6. I do love to accompany on your rides. There are so many interesting and lovely things to ea... err ... see. I especially love the shot of the 'stacked' clouds. Hard to believe you are so warm. One of our GoatNeighbors just returned from a trip to Wisconsin (where his family is) and was telling of your unusual weather. Please send some this way. It snowed again yesterday, though thankfully didn't stick!

  7. I really enjoyed that ride! My favorite shot was the sun on the marsh. So beautiful.
    I had my windows open the other night and I could hardly sleep for all the critter noise outside. LOL

  8. What a lovely ride. In wonder if you are right to suspect Mr Fox and the chickens next door, they must be hard to resist! I do like a good old American barn. We just don't have anything like that over here. Juliex

  9. Count me as another virtual companion along the way. I loved this ride and all the beauty you captured along the way. The catkins prove spring really is coming, the fox tickled the funny bone, and I love that shot of your shadow cycling! Love the sandhills, too, with or without heads (in photos only, of course!).

  10. That pic of the "marshy corner" is perfect! Beautiful to see all these things springing to life, although, like your Mr., I too am suffering from the seasonal sniffles! So nice to be able to sit inside and just look at your pics instead!! lol


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