This is the first time I have had a chance to blog since we rang in the New Year. The very next day we headed off to Puerto Rico for some resort time. The Caribe Hilton in San Juan is just west of the city on a stubby peninsula that exposes it to easterly winds. And boy, do those winds blow. The breeze was seldom short of 20 mph, and sometimes above 30.
Sea full of whitecaps, big surf over the outer coral reefs, hanging onto your hat, day and night. The wind mitigates the heat of the sun, as do the fair-weather cumulus clouds that march across the sky as the day progresses, and the occasional bands of cumulostratus that bring brief rainshowers.
It is a refreshing place to sit, read, take a few laps in the pool, read some more, visit the bar at Happy Hour, and generally revel in temperatures in the low 80s. A cyclist on the beach hotel roads and paths circling the nearby lagoon would have had pronounced headwind/tailwind differentials to deal with. And while some folks did rent bikes, I just took a few days off from my cycling routines, which had already suffered some interruption during the Holidays.
As the holidays end with Twelfth Night, the English custom of affirming Misrule and topsy-turvy behavior butts heads with the resigned acquiescence of resuming familiar routines. This resumption is often actually comforting. But as we work into our patterns we should remember Henry David Thoreau’s aversion to paths, and his wry comments about the way the paths he wore while living beside Walden Pond for 26 months were still there several years later.
One way we avoid ruts in our lives is by making New Years Resolutions. We may not keep them, but they express our desire to change. If the resolutions are serious, practical, and reflective of our authentic selves, we have a better chance of making them stick.
My resolution for 2013 is to be more of an urban naturalist. This notion was inspired by one of the most remarkable books I’ve read in a long time, a book I took with me to read in San Juan, Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. It’s a book about crows, concerning which Ms. Haupt is significantly ambivalent. But the subtitle, betokening the book’s underlying vision, is Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness. Ms. Haupt is a passionate urban naturalist. She carries binoculars everywhere, she has a 10x magnifying glass handy always, she makes notes on the spot, using special paper that takes lead and ink when wet (well, she does live in Seattle). She observes and remembers the apparently commonplace but actually astonishing minutiae of the nature that is found in the city. She weeps about global warming when she reads new reports in the paper.
I am not that person. But I do like nature, and if you read this blog you know that I spend quite a bit of time talking about the nature I see on my rides along the W&OD rail-to-trail path that is my most vital cycling artery. So what I will be doing this year is broadening my scope a bit, blogging still about cycling, but making local nature observations more of a substantive entity.
Same yet different, demanding but doable. Changing my own consciousness about my world, centered on my own house lot in suburbia as well as the trail that leads me beyond that. A good resolution; hope you enjoy the ride.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2013.