by Brad Nelson 7/6/14
Perhaps this should be posted in the “Poetry and Prose” section. But I’ve never been a stickler about something being “off topic” as most sites are. Who acts like that in real life?
“I’m sorry, honey, I can’t talk about what we’re having for dinner because we’re in the living room, not the kitchen.”
I’m all for organizing things, but one can easily get too anal retentive about such things.
I did about twenty miles on my bicycle today in and around Port Gamble. I was deep in the forests, on wide logging roads and narrow (and stump-infested) bike trails. I huffed and puffed for about four hours or so.
But it wasn’t exercise. I hate exercise. I think the only legitimate forms of exercise are training for the Olympics, rehabbing an injury, or getting in shape for the military or law enforcement. Other than that, I see no use for it. I do not get on my bike for “exercise,” per se. It’s simply a side-benefit.
Bicycling is a way to pass some pleasant hours alone in nature doing something kinetic and that makes you feel as if you are alive. And when you brush your shin against nettles, baby, you know you’re alive.
I found the first ripe red huckleberries. The first patch I found was adequate. But I later found another patch that was just stuffed with big and ripe berries. I also ran into (ran over in some cases) the first sighting of ripe wild blackberries. They tend to hug low to the ground. I don’t know their Latin name, but they are the small ones, not the larger ones that are predominant. The small ones are what the finer cooks use to make blackberry pies. But because they are so small and hard to find, it’s a challenge to pick enough of them for a pie.
The weather was ideal in the Pacific Northwest today. It was warm but not too warm — about 86 degrees at its peak. It was sunny most of the day with an occasional cloud to take the edge off. When outdoors I much prefer the heat to the cold. Ninety degrees is just fine as far as I’m concerned. And even those temperatures around these parts are quite tolerable because such temperatures usually come with low humidity and a fair breeze, as there was today.
I used to do a lot of thinking and musing when out on the trail. Several years ago it was even common for me to carry a pen and a pad of paper in my back pocket. But I’ve found that I’ve graduated from that practice for some reason. It may have been because the pen and paper (and the thoughts inside my head) became analogous to the proverbial Japanese tourist who takes photos of everything in his travels and spends little time actually in his travels, if you know what I mean.
But I did sit at the end of the day and write a very small poem. It’s a poor poem. It doesn’t express the true grandeur of a forest, particularly in its inherent architecture and ability to shape the landscape and add wondrous dimensions. Flat wheat fields and sandy beaches are fine places. But a forest is a magical and majestic place. The fact of trees changes everything. So here’s that short bit without further ado:
Shade of a tree
Being at ease
Beneath a dappled cover
Sun in the sky
Higher than high
Relief in timber shadows
At the end of the ride today I stopped by a fruit stand that I frequent. I’ve gotten to know the vendor over the years. He thought it might be a little hot for bike riding on a day like this. And I said that, yes, if I had been out in the open sun on an asphalt road, it might have been sweltering. But I was riding in the shade of the trees.
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