Flocks of Birds Over Inverness, MS

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Ok, I’ll admit it. When I woke up to gray skies and blustery winds, I considered *not* taking a bike ride today. I mean, I enjoy spending time in the smallest chain ring, but I just wasn’t sure I felt like working that hard this morning. S. pointed out that I could always go out for a short ride and come right back. Excellent plan. I donned my layers, took a right out of the driveway this time, and headed toward town. About half a mile in I was reminded that it is always a good idea to go for a ride. The wind wasn’t bad and the views went on forever. I stopped right before Inverness to watch a couple of horses snack on hay, and I heard the gurgles of so many birds. I snapped this picture of part of the crazy stretch of birds flying together against the clouds. Everyone was headed the same direction, but at intervals three or four would turn around and, in my anthropomorphizing mind, work as crossing guards, herding everyone into lines, keeping things orderly. They were noisy and beautiful and I was completely irrelevant–perfect. I rode through and around the silent town, outrunning dogs, studying cypress in the bayou, wondering if that was a cotton gin, and then headed home to a hot shower, an extra soft, extra large sweater, and some footbal. Like I said, perfect.

Fishing Pier at Lake Mars in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

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I am not one for making a plan or carrying a map, prefering to find my way by feel or hoping there will be a sign, a foolish strategy likely picked up from my father. If I don’t have anywhere in particular to be, though, the Never Fail Guide Service is perfectly sufficient. It does mean, however, that sometimes I end up on my first solo camping trip, at Davis Bayou in Gulf Islands National Seashore, riding around rich people’s cul de sacs or on roads with no shoulders. Oh well. I rode around so many weird neighborhoods today, showing so many levels of wear, passing folks smoking on their porches in their Slankets, kids on bikes, old ladies with dogs, and a Justin Bieber lookalike on a skateboard–I hope he finds his way out. I took a right on Beachview Road, hoping it would lead me to a beach view. I usually have bad luck following roads in search of their namesakes (today’s trip down Old Oak Lane a case in point), but today I ended up here, at the boat launch at Lake Mars, where the marsh meets saltwater, just me, my bike, and this great blue heron. And now I’m back in the park, writing from a bench tucked away in the marshy grass, waiting for the longest night of the year to kick in. I wouldn’t be here if not for the bike.