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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Looking South Toward Hopkins from Broadway East

Picture of a street that dead ends into  deteriorating row homes with a blue sky above it and Johns Hopkins Hospital in the background.

Friday as the last day of work before spring break, and boy howdy did I have spring breakitis that day! The weather was bananas–in the 70s, sun shining, just enough humidity to kick on the dehumidifier in the basement for the first time in months–and I was itching to get outside for a ride. And that’s exactly what I did, once the last of the must-do tasks were completed, meetings over, time for the break to start a bit early.

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Sunlight Over Eutaw & Centre Streets

Picture looking down the street at an intersection. The sun is coming up about midway from the horizon. The sky is streaked with clouds and new light, and there are leafless trees against it.

We went to Michigan for the weekend to see family and meet our new baby niece, and by the time we flew back on Sunday, the time had changed, the weather warmed up, and spring was here. This might still be false spring, yes, but I already feel safe leaving my gloves and lights at home for my work commute. And for now, it’s darker when I leave home in the mornings, which means a whole new kind of light as I pedal downtown to catch my bus out to work.

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Homing Pigeon Cages in Upton

Picture of a blue house for birds behind an old fence. There's a safety cone on top. In the foreground are brick steps leading to a brick landing.

The weather is all wrong these days. Ordinarily we get a warm day or two in February, like sweet cherries to tide us over until spring actually comes–which can be as late as May. But this February has been up and down in extremes I don’t remember. Wednesday’s extreme was 70 degrees and humid, 20 degrees above normal, and now on Thursday, it’s 30 degrees and ice is in the forecast. It is a rollercoaster.

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Crushed Safety Cone at MLK and Lombard

A picture of a sidewalk with a crushed safety cone in the foreground, cars parked along the curb, a parking meter pay station, and in the distance, buildings in downtown Baltimore.

Monday’s plan was to ride my bike to my surgical oncology follow up at 8:30am and then, after what would likely be a 15 minute appointment, take a ride around east Baltimore for an hour or two, a stop for coffee and reading, then back home for a day of meetings on the internet. But when I looked out the window at 7:22am, snow, and it was stuck to the roads.

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Looking Out Over the Water at Fort McHenry

A cloudy gray sky is the backdrop to calm blue-gray waters. There's a barge floating in the middle of the picture. The foreground is asphalt and a bit of grass.

I am easily sold things. If there’s a membership, I’ll probably join, and I’m currently earning points in so many “rewards” programs I can’t believe there’s anywhere left to sell my personal information. I spend a lot of time scrolling through different social media platforms, and I am absolutely cognizant of how many ads I’m seeing, that I am the profit generator for the platform, and that no matter my critical thinking skills, the press of resisting advertising all day every day is rough, especially for me, a person prone to be upsold.

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Ducks on a Pond in Patterson Park

Picture of a small pond surrounded by leafless trees and dirt. A few ducks are sitting on the icy part of the pond in the center of the picture. The background sky is cloudy with a few spots of blue coming through.

The weather report for the end of the week was all rain, so I grabbed an hour on Wednesday to sneak in a bike ride around town before everything got all wet. I know, I know, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing, but I hate riding in the rain if I can help it. My brakes don’t work as well, drivers are even more bananas than usual, and once my glasses get wet, I can’t really see. The older I get the more likely I am to choose my mode of transportation or exercise based on pleasure rather than what I think I should be doing. It is a gift of getting older to care less what other people (by which I mostly mean my internal high school principal) think about what I’m doing. And I can’t tell you how happy I was when my stepmom gave me my dad’s bike tour journal, where he clearly chose to stay in hotels sometimes to avoid the rain and charge his cell phone. If you knew my dad, you know he was a purist about many things, so learning he wasn’t always that way was a real treat.

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