Sunday, October 18, 2009


Picture of the trees with the steam coming off my hands

Same trees about an hour later.

If I had been able to get it straight in my head today that it was Sunday and not Monday I would have been less surprised at not getting passed by a car my entire ride this morning. But, alas, the whole day today I have been certain that it was Monday. There are hardly any cars on a weekday too. Portland has these great bike routes on what are called bike boulevards. They are designated streets, many with gentle speed bumps that are specifically for cyclists. Motorists that don't live on these streets avoid them because in my neighborhood 30% of the commuters are on bikes so your drive would be pretty slow. My 90-minute ride this morning consisted of 30 minutes on the bike boulevards, crossing the main streets with lights, and 60 minutes in the park.
I am amazed as I ride at how really beautiful the changing trees are. I think of rain as equalling winter here, but with my riding I am appreciating the season change more. It does rain in the fall, but it is a warm rain.
This morning I am struck by the beauty of the trees, especially the large groups of trees. After climbing the long steep hill I stop to try to photograph them, but I can't get it to come out. The pictures keep showing this white fog in front of the lens. But, the lens looks clean, so what could be wrong. I try turning off the flash until I realize that there is too much steam coming off my hands. The air is thick with moisture. It reminds me of the day I was walking with my dad in the Pearl and he told me that the Irish call this a "soft day."
As I round the top and head back down the shallow side I am thinking about how I am almost incapable of journaling in past tense since coming back from Finland. I have been keeping a diary in past tense for almost three years, but since taking this transformative trip, I just keep going back to present tense. And, in my life I have been more in present time. I'm feeling less regret about the past and less worry about the future than I have in years. It reminds me of learning Italian and how the Italians use present tense almost all the time when they are talking about the future. It think this is undoubtedly tied to their renowned ability to appreciate the present moment. I think too that when I am riding I take a full and complete break from worry and regret and just experience life. This is surely a reason why experiencing a little rain on a ride seems a small price to play for all it has given me.
I make it to the top a second time, stopping on the way for a beautiful shot of some berries hanging from a tree. I am making plans for a new and difficult ascent I rode down yesterday on the way to Rocky Butte. It is fierce, but I know I can do it. I head back down and out of the park coming down the steep long hill of my massage therapist's street. I head back up saying hello to the very elderly couple crossing the street on their way to church. The hill tests my legs and my lungs but I make it back up and into the park. I snap a shot of the trees that turns out and round the top one more time. I ride back down the shallow side, out of the park and home.
Later in the day I ride to the Pearl for some rain gear. REI had all the gear I wanted: shoe covers (I got the cutest ones), rain gloves complete with extra gripping on the first two fingers, a thin hat for under my helmet, and a reflective vest for wearing over my coat. I didn't want to shell out for an expensive cycling jacket so I figured the vest would be a good idea. I shot the above picture on the way home riding down the Eastbank Esplanade. My culture shock after coming back from Finland is wearing off and I'm feeling happy again to be in such a beautiful city with such excellent biking.

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