Friday, March 5, 2010


Evening on Tick marsh
"crit-rit" call the peeper frogs
"ling" answers brass bell

I'm putting in 10 hour days on a regular basis now, just to stay on top of things and avoid bringing school stuff home to grade, which I'm mostly successful at. It's good, and I'm enjoying myself, but there's never enough time in a day, is there?

A couple of weeks ago I decided my head and heart would be happier if I avoided traffic at the end of the day and took the long way home. When the days were longer I liked ending the week by riding the Springwater trail home on Friday. I can access it in Gresham just blocks from school, connect to the 205 path near Foster, and jump off close to home, making for about 12 traffic-free miles. It's a dark ride in winter, without street lights, and since it's home - literally - to some pretty dodgy folks without visible means of support but plenty of needles and 40-ouncers, I'll stick with the streets until the lighter months. But along about the end of February there's enough lingering light that I can get on at 5-ish and make it home before dark.

I've seen some interesting stuff, though. I stopped and picked up a big Buck knife with a duct-taped handle right next to a homeless couple loudly airing their dirty laundry in the middle of the trail. not sure if it had been thrown and missed the mark, or accidentally dropped, but they didn't argue when I rode away with it, hoping I'd helped avoid the fight getting truly ugly. A couple days later I thought I'd scored another free bike down in the blackberry bushes below the trail - until I noticed the woman lying next to it. I stopped to help, of course, figuring she'd drifted onto the soft shoulder and taken a tumble. The slur of her embarrassed apology reinforced what my nose was already saying. It takes a lot to be too drunk to ride in the daylight, but she was there. I helped her up to the trail and after she assured me she was just scratched and was going to get on Max, I left her standing there, her helmet still looped over her handlebars where it was when she took her tumble. I saw her again today sitting beside her bike, reading a book in the sun by the trail. The same day I helped her I came up behind a half dozen saggy-pantsed young men, out for a stroll. Normally I ring the bell to let people know I'm coming and slow to allow them to move to the side. But sometimes the gut says stealth is better and giving warning will just put me at a disadvantage. I put on a little speed and was by the rear guard before they could do anything but shout. the lead guy, however, gave chase for a few strides, and shouted out if I knew where Powell Butte was. Um, it's that big hillside looming over you on the right? I suspect he knew that, but wanted to see if I was dumb enough to actually stop to answer his question. Not today.

Mostly, though, it's a really lovely ride. The wild cherrys and old abandoned apple orchards are in bloom, Johnson creek is full, the red-winged blackbirds are perched on dry cattails and calling their girlfriends, and get 10+ miles of brake-less and car-free riding to clear my head and heart.

It's helping.

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