Tree Growing Out of a Propped Up Wall on Chester & Chase

Last week was so busy busy with so many late nights due to campus events and baseball that I just didn’t have time to ride my bike for anything but transportation. I can’t remember the last time I just rode around aimlessly, and after waking up tired and sickly and leaving the house without enough clothing for the cooler weather, I didn’t think I’d be taking that sort of ride today either. I headed down to the coffee shop to meet V. for a quick grading session before heading the rest of the way downtown to stop at the gym. By the time I’d run my errands, the shade was long and the ride even chillier, but I decided to head east to see what would happen since in my experience I never regret a bike ride, and a ride always warms me up. I didn’t regret this one, not at all. It took me through Fells Point, a left up through Butchers Hill and over past Patterson Park to Highlandtown and Elwood Park, Middle East, and past Johns Hopkins and its arrested redevelopment, and finally through Oliver, shooting out back on the Fallsway bike path up to home. It was a good ride, zig-zagging the streets past restaurants and bars I hadn’t noticed before, skinny row houses in brick and formstone, streets paved with bricks and others barely so, and the rows upon rows of boarded-up houses. I stopped on Chester and Chase to snap this picture of a facade held up by those wooden struts. I’m guessing this stop-gap has been in place for awhile, what with that tree growing out of the joists. It’s the kind of scene that would send me across the street as pedestrian. This neighborhood was pocked with abandoned houses but also with folks doing the fall Saturday thing–throwing balls around, sitting on stoops with sweaters on, holding a neighborhood car wash. I pedaled along, said my how-you-doings, agreed with more than one person that I was getting some serious exercise, and then I was on my way home, on very familiar ground, reminded again of how small this city is, but how easy it would be to think the whole city looks just like your particular neighborhood, if you live and work in some neighborhoods, or just drive down the hill to the nearest freeway.  It felt really, really good to be out on my bike headed nowhere, getting just a little bit lost, and an excellent reminder that when in doubt, take the bike out.

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