Looking South Along Chinquapin Run From a Bridge

Rocky stream running between two green and overgrown banks with a cloudy blue sky in the background.

Sunday was–you guessed it–hot and humid. I spent the morning luxuriating in the ice box that is my bedroom when I’ve got the AC unit blasting, the door closed, and the windows covered. I remember a time in my life when I’d be too afraid of the utility bill to run it like that, but now I can afford to cool myself off. So many can’t, and so many couldn’t even if they wanted to. As the heat dome continues to settle over the Pacific Northwest I remember that they’re not ready for it, they don’t have the infrastructure for it, and even if they did, heat waves are the deadliest of “natural” disasters.

I’ve been riding my bike around in hot and humid conditions for years now, so I know what I need for that sort of thing is sunscreen, a handkerchief to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, plenty of water, and the discipline to go slow. I turned off the AC unit, got those things together, and got on my bike on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be, so I also popped a book in my bag and rode over to the house of a couple of friends, to leave it on their porch. I didn’t even call ahead–scandalous!

These pals live up, up, and up the hill, so I dropped into an easy gear and pedaled my way up and down Old York Road before taking a right on Coldspring, a left on Loch Raven. There’s a reason I don’t tend to bike this way–those are some high-traffic roads, not for the faint of heart, especially when you are as slow as I am on a hot day. I was hoping that a lazy Sunday afternoon would mean I could just take the lane and the few drivers would be satisfied with the other lane. That’s what I did, but that meant a lot of cars just barely moving over to pass me. They likely have no idea how scary it is to feel the breath of a vehicle like that. I wish everyone could spend a week or two on a bike, as a pedestrian, as a bus rider to understand how the rest of us get around.

I muscled through it and up the hills, a right onto their street, and I rolled up to what I expected to be an empty porch. No! Friends! Sitting outside! Who welcomed my totally unannounced and sweaty and out of breath hello! We went inside, grabbed some of their air conditioning, and caught up in person for the first time in who knows how long. It was like getting my soul filled right back up again.

And then I was back on my bike, determined to find a less terrifying way to get home. I zigged and zagged leisurely around Ramblewood until I ran into Chinquapin Run Park. I rode alongside it until I spied a path into it, and then I found myself on this bridge over the water. How is this view just tucked inside this park? What an absolute treat. I snapped a picture, thought about how much water is running under our concrete and asphalt, pushed out the thoughts of how much of the city is on unstable ground, chugged some more water and then rode the rest of the way home. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, and wow am I grateful for friends and parks and sunshine, even if I complain about the latter all the time.

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