Burned Flag Pole at 31st and Barclay Streets

Looking up at a blue sky and porch roof. There is an empty flag pole on the house. There is a green tree at the right of the picture.

I grabbed my bike on Wednesday morning to pedal up and around to Hampden for a much-needed session with my therapist. I got a text just as I was leaving the house from our neighbor, letting me know the fire down the block had destroyed three houses, and “Word is that it was started because someone set a rainbow flag on fire. It’s terrible.” I called my wife to let her know, got out of the alley, headed down Barclay Street to see what was going on. I ran into S.–he told me the same thing. I was in shock.

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Cloudy Sky Over Greene & Lombard Streets

Picture of a cloudy sky with patches of blue showing through. Tall buildings are in the background.

Monday’s bike ride took me down the hill to my usual bike racks, another multimodal commute out to UMBC. I left my house at 7:46am, and the temperature was a cool 73 degrees. Expect the humidity was at 98%, and yeah, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Even though I was mostly coasting downhill, I was a sweaty mess, completely drenched through and through 23 minutes later as I pulled up on the corner of Shock Trauma, grateful for their aggressive sliding doors that gave me a blast of cool breeze as I walked east to catch the shuttle bus. I looked up as I waited, snapped this pic. That sky, promises of just more damp heat, held in by the clouds.

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Looking South From the Prison at Eager & Fallsway

A barbed wire fence in the foreground, a tree at the left of the picture, and the hint of an old stone building behind the tree. The sky is gray and cloudy, and behind the fence you can just see Baltimore's downtown skyline.

Tuesday’s bike ride was like most of my bike rides these days–to and from downtown to catch the shuttle out to work. I’m on campus most days in June working with a few students on a project in Special Collections, which means great teaching and learning experiences, and also a whole lot of bike commutes. On the way home, though, I took a detour around Baltimore’s many prisons and jails that I ride by on my way to and from several times a week, to take pictures for another project I’m working on.

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Church Square Shopping Center at Caroline & Eager Streets

Picture at an intersection of two streetlights, a fence around a building labeled Church Square Shopping Center, and fancy Johns Hopkins Hospital buildings are rising behind it all. The sky is blue with some wispy clouds.

Thursday’s bike rides went all different directions–first to Hampden for a therapy appointment and then up to the Rotunda for some routine blood work, back home for lunch, and then down to Fells Point for some shopping and back up the hill to Mount Vernon for a drink with N. before almost beating the rain on my ride back home. When you do your errands by bike you get to ride a bike all over pretty much all day long, and oh my, I needed that.

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Baynard Woods Reading at SoWeBo Fest at S. Carlton & W. Baltimore Street

Picture of a white man in salmon pink pants, a blue t-shirt, and a blue button up over the top of it. He's standing at the end of a long platform set up on grass that leads to a stage where string musicians are setting up. There are tents on either side, and a kid standing with a hula hoop. The sky is bright blue with just a few puffy white clouds.

It’s summertime in Baltimore, and SoWeBo Fest is back after a two year covid hiatus. I slathered myself with sunscreen and hopped on the bike to check out the scene and take the new North Avenue cycletrack for the first time. North Ave is generally a death wish on a bike, but the new paint and concrete curb got me feeling all brave. I don’t trust anybody at any intersection, and I doubled down on that for this ride, slowing, stopping, waiting, waving my arms, yelling. I know that being seen is no guarantee, but it’s what I have.

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Lake Montebello on a Misty Day

A metal fence is in the foreground, the middle of the picture is calm gray waters, and the top of the picture is a gray sky, all clouds.

Long time, no blog. I’ve been riding my bike, more than I have in a long time, actually. Up and down the hill, to work, to the gym, up to and around the park, as far east as I can go, as far west, almost every day. And things have been hard. It was a hard academic year, the shortest and longest of my career. There are so many layers of grief, so little time and space to parse through them. This world. I need a chance to catch my breath and exhale, even as there is no “break” for any of us, if we are paying attention and have empathy as part of our experience of being human. I’m fine, and I’m not, and I’m grateful for a bicycle and a circle to ride it around, over and over again, hello fellow humans, hello misty air, hello. We’re still here.

Domino Sugar Factory on Key Hwy E.

A brick factory with steam coming out of several pipes from the roofs.

Wednesday was cool and cloudy, just as I like it, and I had a dentist appointment over in Federal Hill, so it was the perfect reason to ride downtown and afterwards, around Locust Point. I had a vague idea that maybe I could see the Ever Forward stuck in the mud from Fort McHenry, but alas, I’ve got to get out to Pasadena, MD to catch a glimpse. Next week, next week!

I might not have seen the #NeverForward, but it was a lovely day to be on my bike, listening to music on my lil bluetooth speaker the mother-in-law got me for Christmas, and spinning along on my newly-tuned up quiet-as-a-mouse bicycle. I did a turn around the water at Fort McHenry, felt satisfied at all the big ships I could see, muted my speaker as I spun by a guy deep in thought who I didn’t want to disturb, and then rode out of the park, up and down Fort Avenue, headed vaguely home.

I took the long way through Locust Point and around the Under Armour headquarters to ride past the Domino Sugar refinery. They were making sugar that day, and the air had that sweet burning smell. So much sugar, every grain part of such a long and complicated history, but today it was just the background to a ride. Where I put my attention is where my attention goes, thank you for the reminder.

And then it was around the water, ringing my bell as I passed so many people out for a spring stroll. The Inner Harbor is allegedly getting a face lift soon, or a total remodel, and it needs that, for sure. That said, people are down here enjoying the space in spite of the sad shuttered shops down here. And there are still places open–Hooters, the candy place, a space selling Baltimore-made and related stuff. There is life down here, and that was a good reminder. If you just look at Twitter you can forget that the internet just tells one set of stories that gets passed around. If you can, go outside and see for yourself.

I continued my ride around and up and over to home, grateful again for the weather and the bike and the reminders this city gives me, over and over again, to keep that attention bouncing. There’s so much to see.

Flowering Tree Along Chesterfield Avenue Near Crossland

Pink flowering tree against leafless trees and a gray sky.

It has been so windy lately, but on Monday, it wasn’t windy, so when I got a break from my work I headed out on my bike to take advantage of the cool, cloudy, windless weather. At this point in my perimenopausal life, once it gets past 65 degrees I start feeling too hot, so this weather is perfect.

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Flower Trees at E. Monument & Fallsway

Picture of a bunch of trees flowering with white puffy blooms against a blue sky etched with clouds.

It’s flower tree season in Baltimore, and because I don’t have allergies, it is my favorite season. I have lived here long enough to have my favorite spots–the pink ones that always seem to bloom first in front of the University of Maryland School of Nursing; the puffy white trees in front of the old phone company building that is now apartments on 31st and Guilford; the tunnel of pink ones that make the ride up Charles or Guilford spring magic. And then there’s this bunch of trees, right where Fallsway and E. Monument Street meet.

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Empty Lot and Row Houses at W. Fairmount Avenue and S. Payson Street

Picture of an empty lot in the foreground with row houses in the background. The sky is bright blue and dotted with clouds. On the left is a street light with flags reading "Grace Medical Center" on one side and "CARE BRAVELY" on the other side.

It’s spring break, and Monday’s weather felt like it. I spent my morning reading in bed before hopping online to email students reminders to turn in work and answer some other work-related emails before heading to Mount Vernon for a panel discussion about Baltimore for UMBC’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Ok, so far it’s not sounding like a break, but I knew an out-to-lunch-alone and a solo bike ride were on the other side of things, so even the work felt like a celebration.

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