A folding bike, a flashback and a foreshadowing

26 June, 2016            A folding bike, a flashback and a foreshadowing   

The story referred to in the title is at the bottom of this post. 

Speaking of posts – the is the 243rd post on this blog since it began five years ago. Look back through a few old ones if you have some time – there are a few beauties. Pick a month or a season you enjoy and have a look around. 

If you were in central Virginia two weeks ago, chances are your power was knocked out, at least for a few hours. For a few days in some cases, but Dominion Power had multiple crews on round the clock from in and out of state, and the work they did was exceptional, especially considering the extent and severity of the damage. If you’re not from around here, you may not have heard we had damaging winds on the evening of Thursday, June 16. I was walking the dogs the evening of Monday (June 20) when I took this picture of work trucks parked at Douglas S. Freeman High School, probably not more than two hundred yards from my house:

Dominion Power trucks and more, to the rescue during our recent power outage

Dominion Power trucks and more, to the rescue during our recent power outage

This week (beginning Monday, 20 June, the first official day of summer), things have returned generally to normal. The Barred Owl fledglings my friend Ethan and I have been watching are gaining strength and moving farther from their nest. We walked a long way down the trail at Pony Pasture Tuesday afternoon before we could get in position to take this picture:

Adolescent Barred Owl, under the canopy at Pony Pasture

Adolescent Barred Owl, under the canopy at Pony Pasture

I don’t know how “real” nature photographers do it, but we snap our first pictures from far away then creep forward. A well-known bit of advice for photographers is “get closer” so we get a picture first – then get closer. When you’re photographing flowers, that’s easy. But if you’re photographing a bird or a deer or a dragonfly or a raccoon or a squirrel or a rabbit, you keep pressing that button and hoping for the best. Frogs, turtles, snakes, anything that moves when it chooses, there is always luck involved. I see adult Barred Owls at Pony Pasture all year long; I have never seen any other owl there. This one let us get close. I call this one – I apologize for my lack of originality – “Things are looking up”:

Things are looking up

Things are looking up

The light is unfavorable when you’re pointing your camera up under the leafy canopy in Pony Pasture; my talents as a photographer do not extend to photographing backlit subjects. But it feels like such a gift to get this close to these wonderful animals. I keep doing it as long as they’ll let me. This one let Ethan and me creep up until we were standing directly beneath it. Quite literally; if it had chosen that moment to relieve itself, it would have landed on us. Look at these talons: 

Yikes

Yikes

My friend Kim has forgotten more about owls than I’ll ever know, and she assures me these guys will be around until at least August. But they’re not easy to find and I always feel like every picture I take is my last. This is the last picture we took before the mosquitoes drove us off. The owl never left – and we were directly under it, not more than six feet away. From underneath: 

Aren't they incredible? I never get tired of this.

Aren’t they incredible? I never get tired of this.

I drive past Discovery United Methodist Church on Gayton Road some mornings; it’s on high ground and has a cross on top, a combination apparently irresistible to Red-tailed hawks. Watch the crosses on churches as you drive around town – Red-tails love them: 

There are always hawks sitting on top of churches!

There are always hawks sitting on top of churches!

I didn’t move from that spot – I was leaning against my car in the parking lot – when I turned my camera and photographed this mockingbird holding a recently deceased insect in its bill:

Mockingbird eating an insect in the church parking lot.

Mockingbird eating an insect in the church parking lot.

I read that mockingbirds benefit from being near human habitations where they grab insects of freshly cut lawns. The birds that descend on my lawn after I cut it are almost invariably robins with a few starlings thrown in, but we’re not short on mockingbirds here either. 

This morning (Sunday, 26 June) Mackey and Turner and Yuki joined me for a saunter at Pony Pasture. My favorite picture was this dragonfly across from the wetlands. I think it’s a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) but I always love to have my mistakes corrected – don’t by shy – it’s how I learn:

Blue Dasher (I think)

Blue Dasher (I think)

This is not a mistake – it’s a gardenia blooming just outside our open front window – you should smell it – and I clicked the shutter at 5:23 PM today:

One of many gardenias blooming outside our open living room window:

One of many gardenias blooming outside our open living room window:

That’s all the writing and photography I’m going to include for this part of this week’s blog post. The title refers to the brief story I relate below. I thought I had a picture of the bike I’m writing about, but I can’t locate it. I may find it and include it next week. I hope you’ll come back anyway! And I hope you have an excellent week!

All best,

Jay

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A folding bike, a flashback and a foreshadowing

The handlebars came off my bike while I was going really fast downhill. This was around forty years ago, when I was in my early teens. Call it 1975; that couldn’t be more than a year or two off. I didn’t ride then like I do now – or swim – but I did both, a lot. The bicycle I had then was a folding bike – it was blue, and I remember buying it with my dad. I’m not sure just why we bought a folding bike, but I loved having it and rode it everywhere. On this occasion I’d ridden it from our house on Braddock Road to now-defunct Oakview pool. The pool was around three-quarters of a mile from our house. Work your way up a long hill to get to the pool, and fly down on the way home.

I remember being in the bike shop with my dad when we bought it, and I remember the smell. Rubber tires – you could really smell rubber tires. And chain oil. I loved it then and I love it now, although you have to find a small bike shop with lots of bikes to really get that smell.

In addition to having a latch and hinge mid-frame so you could fold the bike in half for storage and hauling, the bike had quick release handlebars. And I’d been at the pool one day and was coming down the hill at top speed when the handlebars released – quickly. I’m not good at riding with no hands now and I wasn’t any better then. I don’t remember hitting the ground. If there were bicycle helmets then, I’d never seen one. And you’d better believe if my dad had thought I’d needed one to keep me safe, I’d have been wearing it. But so it goes.

I don’t even remember what happened. I was probably in a little shock. I do know I didn’t break any limbs and I didn’t need any stitches and my bike was still rideable. With the handlebars securely fastened.

At that age, a bicycle equaled freedom, and it never occurred to me to not want to ride. I’m pretty certain I walked it the rest of the way home that day, but I’m equally certain I rode it back to the pool that week. Foreshadowing the more significant bike wreck I’d survive in 1988.

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About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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