Blue Sky and Greenery Along the Herring Run Trail Near Shannon Drive

Blue sky dotted with white clouds behind some water and a whole bunch of greenery--trees, vines, etc.

I had scheduled my COVID vaccine booster shot for Friday morning, but I had some time Thursday and decided I’d see if I could just get the vaccine then so if I felt sick afterward, it’d be on Friday and I could feel good again for the weekend. I’ll be sick during Friday’s WebEx meetings, I thought, not during a bike ride on Saturday or at the neighborhood street fair on Sunday. Priorities.

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Green Trees and Grass and Blue Skies Dotted with Puffy Clouds at Druid Hill Park

Picture of green trees and grass with a blue sky dotted with white clouds as the background.

School is back in session which means less time to bike around aimlessly, but also more time to multimodally commute. Both are great, but I already miss the first. That said, one of the glories of being an academic and off the tenure track is that sometimes I have a Thursday morning that is just me reading whatever I want to read, riding my bike to therapy, and then riding around Druid Hill Park afterwards. And yesterday was one of those Thursdays.

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View from the West End of Herring Run Park

Picture of a stream with lush greenery on both sides, a cloud-streaked sky in the background.

I haven’t ridden my bike in almost a month. I can’t remember the last time I went so long without a ride–probably during chemotherapy. Even then, though, I would occasionally trust my body enough to ride a mile to the new age fitness place to do sound baths and expressive dance. I haven’t been on my bike because I was in Alaska, on a two and a half week vacation. That was the longest vacation of my life, and I can see why people want to be rich and have lots of free time to travel. It was amazing.

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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.

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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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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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.

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Park Bench and Picnic Table Under Cloudy Skies at Middle Branch Park

A blue park bench is in the foreground, set against green grass and a picnic table and tree in the middle of the picture. The sky is cloudy and the water of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River is steel gray.

Monday was the first day of early voting in Maryland so I wanted to check out the lines at one of the sites. The best way to do that, of course, was on my bike, so I hopped on and headed down the hill toward Camden Yards. When I first heard this was going to be an early voting site I had images of voting from home plate, looking up at my adoring fans in the stands. Alas, you actually vote inside Dempsey’s Brew Pub–decidedly less exciting. I requested an absentee ballot and dropped it off in a ballot box a couple weeks ago. I was, as usual, my own adoring fan.

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Empty Swimming Pool at Druid Hill Park

Empty Swimming Pool at Druid Hill Park

I went for a run this mid-morning, like I do most Fridays mid-morning. Today I ran with Ahmaud Arbery on my mind. He was killed on February 23, 2020, hunted down by two white men and shot while out for a jog. I go out for a jog all the time. One of the things I like about jogging is that it’s so simple. I put on my shoes, head out the door, and just go. It’s so simple.

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