Sunglasses worry me a bit when the natural light is contrasty. What lurking automobile or rider might be concealed in some dark shadow? What pothole might I not notice? What metal shard from an automobile might I overlook? But they are great in bright sun just because they intercept some 80% of the light. I can get myriad interchangeable lenses that block less, and I have some, but mostly they are a sort of fashion statement. Right now I have the black ones in, but the reds are great in the summer heat, and they do create a sharp image, on my retina and in the minds of those seeing me wear them.
New smell today: honeysuckle. While they’re more redolent of honey when they’re in bloom, they have that nice characteristic fragrance even when they are leafing out. There’s lots of honeysuckle along the trail, and in Virginia in general. It’s really pretty much a weed vine, with the redeeming virtue of fragrance. New sound today: frogs. About a month back, there were Spring Peepers. I missed them this year because of the foul weather and blocked trail when they were singing. last year I wrote:
SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 2009
My cycling log tells me that one year ago yesterday, on March 6, 2008, I first heard spring peepers on the bike trail. Yesterday I first heard them as well. Reliable little critters! This anniversary has subtly complex resonances for me. When the kids were young, I first heard spring peepers, or at least first realized I was hearing them. They were sounding off under a small bridge over a brook (called a “creek” in Virginia–a term never heard in New England) at a friend’s country place in Culpeper, VA. This family used to live down the street from us in Falls Church, VA.
His work shed was jammed full of junk, and his driveway [clogged] with an array of dubious vehicles. They moved to the country where they’d have more room to spread out. He built a two- story work barn, and of course it was soon filled with junk from bottom to top. Can’t take the “country” out of a “country boy.” But his place opened all of our family up to the intimacies of nature in different ways.
Spring peepers are described in Wikipedia as a “small chorus frog” (you can see a photo and hear recordings of their sounds there). They live in bogs, creeks, and ponds, and they’re an early harbinger of spring. Can’t imagine what they were feeling a week ago, when the high temp was 23 F. But yesterday they affirmed that Spring is on the way, despite the false promises, ruses, and betrayals she surely has in store. They know! And in about ten more days they’ll be silent, their announcing job done.
And I fall head over heels for their seductive song every year as surely as if they were Odysseus’ Sirens. What cyclist could not be a true believer, pedaling home refreshed and empowered with the sureness of born-again faith in the cycles of the seasons?
Several weeks later in the season, the singers in the same swamp are different frogs. They don’t “peep” as much as bellow. They proclaim the coming of a warmer season, very assertively. And it’s easier to have real faith on an 80° afternoon.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.