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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Looking Out over the Potomac River from Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve

Blue sky dotted with puffy clouds. A green tree is on the left side, and there are floating green plants in a river.

The weather shifted this week, and it’s still too hot for my precious self, but it is so, so much better than it has been. The timing is perfect for me and my bike. The ladyfriend is out of town touring the UK for three weeks, and she put the bike rack on the car before she left, because neither of us think I can be trusted to wrench the hitch rack on our tiny little car. I’ve got some open days between now and the semester starting, and I plan to spend as many of them as I can driving my bike to ride around new places.

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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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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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Cloudy Skies Over the Reservoir at Druid Hill Park

Fence in the foreground, green trees behind it, and then mostly just a big old cloudy sky.

I didn’t feel like going for a bike ride on Sunday, but I knew I’d feel better in my body and mind if I did, so I did. I also couldn’t let a rare day below a zillion degrees go to waste. The heat is literally deadly for so many, and it’s figuratively deadly for me. At the end of a long bike ride on a normal July day in Baltimore leaves me feeling like somebody just sucked out my soul. A million percent worth it, but a day in the 70s? Thank you!

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The View from Peter’s Hill at Arnold Arboretum in Boston

Green grasses in the foreground, green leafy trees in the midground, and a blue sky with puffy clouds in the background. Downtown Boston skyscrapers are just peeping up from the trees.

Oh, it feels so, so good to be back on my bike! I’ve taken lots of rides in the past week or two, acclimating to the heat and reacquainting myself with riding on the street with cars. I spent most of Quarantine Times running, especially since my commute vanished and with it my guaranteed daily bike ride. Now it’s hot and humid, running feels awful and sometimes dangerous, and I have remembered that I am happy as a clam to ride around in this weather instead, even though it feels like riding inside somebody’s mouth, especially on trash pickup day.

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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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Peeking Over the Wall at St. Paul Cemetery at O’Donnell & Bonsai Streets

A small old brick building is set against a blue sky. A low brick wall extends along the sidewalk. On the other side is a cemetery.

This 2020 election has been a real doozy. I spent most of last week glued to the TV or Twitter while telling myself that neither of those things were helping. I was so exhausted on Wednesday, but woke up to roll into three straight hours of engaging with other people, something I was frankly in no shape to do. I wandered around for the rest of the afternoon in a daze, feeling like an empty husk of a person. I cannot control what I cannot control–and wow that includes the outcome of a presidential election, but the stakes are so high I struggled with the mindfulness practices that usually help. It’s like when I got cancer; “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” stopped soothing anything.

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Luxury Student Housing Going Up at Paca & Lexington

Looking up at a multistory building being built on a corner in Baltimore. Wall installation is underway, but the construction is mostly still just showing its bones.

I took a couple of bike rides this week, mostly to work off global pandemic anxiety that has been enhanced with election 2020 anxiety. I spent a lot of the week staring at Twitter and refreshing the New York Times to see who would be the winner of this thing, even though I know that I can’t control who wins, and that whomever wins, there’s still a global pandemic, crushing poverty rates, and so many people without adequate food, housing, and health care. C’mon, Biden-Harris and a new inauguration day!

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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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