Friday, October 30, 2009
I knew it was the last bike ride of summer. The kids knew it, too. On a fine Sunday, threatening showers, we took off down Dean's Fork, one of my favorite roads around here. It has a beaver pond and natural gardens that defy belief. It has grass growing down the middle, even in the well-traveled upper part, which should be your first clue that you don't take your new Subaru down there.
Nevertheless, Dean's Fork has an allure that calls me every day, because I don't yet know what's down there, a situation that, by the time you read this, will have been remedied.
We timed it just right for the Joe-Pye weed, for the tall ironweed and the jewelweed and the tickseed. These photos just don't do the late-summer tapestry justice, but you can get a hazy idea how spectacular all these weeds, jumbled together in a wet meadow, can be.
Joe-Pye weed is the misty mauve stuff. Tall ironweed is the brilliant royal purple, and tickseed sunflower is the yellow, and jewelweed is the orange. Mmm. Late summer tapestries.
Needless to say, there were ruby-throated hummingbirds in the jewelweed, an embarrassment of riches.
We rode and rode, stopping every now and then just to consider the green halls of summer.
A hay musk ox was lurching along in the meadow below the beaver pond, but he froze stock-still when he saw us coming, like the Marsh Man.
Brief digression: This is the Marsh Man. He looks like a willow bush, but he's really a man, who lurches over the marsh. But when you look at him, he stands stock-still, and looks like a bush again.
His wife is the Marsh Crone, who makes a brew every spring that wakes up the birds and animals that gets them thinking about making more birds and animals.Written and illustrated in 1960 by Ib Spang Olsen (why can't I have a name like that?) and given to me and my sister Micky by my sister Barbara sometime in the 60's. Only about five inches tall, it is one of the books that stayed upstairs, one of the gold standards of children's literature, far more magical to my mind than many of the books that get all the attention.
I am so excited. Today, Friday, it's supposed to hit 75, and the moist dark air at 6 AM holds a warm promise of Indian summer. Bill called Shila up last night and talked her into rearranging her schedule so she and I could take off on a girlhike.* Ever since we almost ran into ruin on Dean's Fork, we've been itching to conquer its 7 or 8 mile length by foot. We want to see how bad it gets; we want to see who and what lives down this forgotten trace. So we're parking a car at either end, packing lunch and lenses and dog cookies and Chet Baker's leash (because there are bound to be cattle), and walking the whole durn thing. I cannot wait.
Zick + Shila + Chet + cameras + unexplored territory = fun
I hope we can't get into too much trouble riding shanks' mare.
*Bill is very good at talking girls into things.
But back to the late-summer bike ride. The kids were very, very tired when we finally got home.
I trailed behind, as always, and this is what greeted me when I came up the driveway. Corpses.
Chet Baker knows what to do when people lie down on the ground.
He gives them doggy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until they giggle.
Chet Baker, I hope you are up for a much longer walk today.
I am game, Mether. I will walk twice as far as you and Shila, because there are bound to be squirrelts.
Walking with my family is my favorite thing.
Boston terriers: small dogs with giant kisses. It's as if they were bred for it.