Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Miles to Go - Favourite Cycling Photos of 2013

New Year's Eve, and 3 degrees (F) outside.

On a night like this, it's hard to believe there ever was a summer ... or a cycling season. So here's a little reminder for myself, of months and miles past; of beauties seen and goals achieved; of friendship enjoyed, sunshine and rain, blossom and tree, and the inestimable blessing of health.

I'm grateful for this year, and look forward to what the next may bring.

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March 2013 - first ride of the season!

Tallulah the Turtle, second-best cycling buddy ever (and a gift from Snowcatcher, the BEST cycling buddy ever).

April - old barns...

...and robins by the river.

First leaves of spring.

May - training break by the Wisconsin River.

A favourite oak in greening fields.

Tallulah smells the lilacs.

June - beautiful water.

And the peak of the season: Bike MS. What a treat to ride in Colorado!

Beautiful hitchhiker.

We did it! (With Snowcatcher and the Lizard.)

July - abounding in wildflowers. Birdsfoot trefoil:


August - More wildflowers. Knapweed (with turtle):

Hot days and sun on the water.

September - ditches blue with asters.

Reflections of the road.

A single perfect acorn.

Cathedral of pines.

October - glory of maples.

And more acorns.

November - last ride of the season.

See you next year! :)

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What are your favourite memories of 2013?

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Busy Week and a Very Cold Walk

How was your Christmas? Wonderful, I hope. Mine was one of the busiest ever, right up to the day and beyond (which is my only excuse for not posting sooner).

Christmas Eve morning Mr. M and I sat down to listen, as usual, to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. (I thought of all the bloggy friends across the pond who might also be listening, and sent you warm thoughts for a Happy Christmas.) Then it was back to the tasks at hand. At 11:40 pm on Christmas Eve I was still putting the last stitches into the last project ... and at 6:30 Christmas morning it was time to get up and start cooking all the things I hadn't yet had time to cook.

Some of my favourite Christmassy things....

Looking into the empty (and tidy!) living room on Christmas morning, knowing that soon it would be full of laughter and loved ones.

A tree hung with ribbons and joy...

...and glass and beads and crochet:

And more beads.

 Homemade honey caramelcorn:

(You can keep your Christmas cookies and cake. Just give me a few gallons of this stuff and I'm a happy camper.)

A small niece who was suddenly old enough to play after-dinner word games with the grownups:

A busy day but a good one.

Thursday was spent in visiting friends and family, and Friday it was back to work. On Saturday things began (finally!) to slow down, and on Sunday I took a Very Cold Walk.

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After some beautifully balmy days in the 20s and 30s, temps have plunged and are heading for below zero. It's about 10º F when I leave for my walk, but the bitter northwest wind is making it feel much colder.

Oak leaves still cling to a few trees at the park entrance, giving a false impression of autumn:

This is a much more accurate picture: frozen pond, snowy ground, and dried grasses under an icily bright sky:

Pine needles against the blue:

A pine cone lies in the crusted snow at my feet:

These are all the pictures I can bear to take - the wind is punishingly cold. It's time to head home and fill up with hot chocolate against the sub-zero week ahead.

I hope it's warmer where you are! :)

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Snowy Sunday

A late December Sunday. Fine snow falls thickly and insistently all morning, stops for a few hours, then picks up again in the afternoon.

I am deep in a sewing project and tempted to stay in and finish it, but the falling snow is calling my name. On with the snowpants ... and boots and scarf and hat and coat and gloves. Into the pocket go the turtle and the camera.

The wind is out of the north, driving tiny flakes across the landscape. The trail entrance is deep with virgin snow; only a bunny has gone before me today...

...rather an undecided bunny, it would seem.

Tallulah hollers from my pocket, "Hey don't forget to take some photos of me today!" I oblige her by posing her on a bare twig:

"Do my cheekbones look prominent?" she asks. "I'm sucking in my cheeks."

I haven't the heart to tell her she looks exactly the same as always. (Do turtles even have cheekbones?)

Up the trail to the Favourite Tree, which stands dreaming of longer days to come...

...then left across the field to where the trail splits. Shall I keep going straight, and follow the snowmobile tracks?

Or turn right, and take the road less travelled (which leads past a possible badger sett)?

We choose the road less travelled. (I keep an eye out for animal tracks, but see none.)

What I do see when I look down are these:

Perfect snowflakes, like tiny six-sided miracles, cling to my scarf. Holding my breath for fear of melting them, I snap a few photos and feel as though someone has handed me the moon.

Does this make me an honorary Snowcatcher? :)

Tallulah sees an inviting hollow stump and perches on the edge to look into the snowy depths:

"How does it look?" I ask.

"Cold and deep," she replies, shivering.

Our trail emerges from the trees, and we stop for a moment to listen. The only sound is the tiny tkk of snowflakes hitting my coat; all other noises have been swallowed up by the deep pervading silence of falling snow. (Is there anything else in the world that falls so quietly as to hush everything around it?)

The trail curves to the left, passing an empty birdhouse whose occupants have flown to warmer climes:

We cross another field to pick up the snowmobile trail as it curves through the woods:

Branch and tree and ground and sky are full of a soft white glory. Even the prickliest dried blossoms are beautified under hats of snow:

In the third blossom from the bottom hides a tiny, perfect snowflower (which I only noticed during the photo-editing stage):

Out of the woods, past a glorious rank of snow-dusted pines...

...then home under the dimming grey sky, with thoughts of dinner dancing in my head.

A gorgeously snowy walk.

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P.S. (which stands of course for Possum Sighting):

After dinner, Mr. M goes out to the garage and is greatly startled to find this critter. We hope it's not planning to stay, though it seems to like the recycling boxes. I run for my camera, take a quick photo, then we shut the door and leave the possum to it. Wonder if it'll still be there in the morning?

(It wasn't.) :)

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