Boarded Buildings in Old Chinatown at Park & Mulberry

Boarded Buildings at Park & MulberrySunday’s ride took me down the hill to meet N. for some work. We’re co-teaching a class, which I’ve never done before and now want to do all and every time, and we’ve got our students putting together short pieces for the radio. The students are doing all the work–the research, the writing, the interviewing, the recording–and on Sunday our job was to go to the places they’ll be talking about to gather some ambient noise to add to their pieces. I locked my bike up in Mount Vernon and we gathered the recording equipment and headed out on foot. Continue reading

Marshland at Assateague Island National Seashore

Marshland at Assateague Island National Seashore N. asked me a few weeks ago to plan a weekend getaway to wherever, and right away I knew we’d be going to Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. First, there’s the obvious drive to visit all the national seashores–I’ve only been to Gulf Islands and Point Reyes, and I was excited to add another to the list. More, though, there’s the part where I just love seashores, especially the barrier island kind where a spit of land makes that magical liminal space, woodland forest on one side, sandy beach on the other, salty marshes in between. Continue reading

Trees and More Trees at Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, Maryland

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I spent most of Wednesday in the car, driving from site to site along the Harriet Tubman Byway, trading off between the excellent audiotour (it didn’t go off the rails with reconciliation rhetoric until three stops from the Delaware border) and the rental car’s satellite radio–a Springsteen-only station? Be still my roadtrip heart! It was a dreary rainy day, and I was all complicated feelings and quiet as I passed through the heart of Caroline County’s Underground Railroad territory and the place where the Still’s had to decide which children to leave in slavery because they couldn’t all make it to freedom at the same time. I drove to the Choptank River, the site of Tubman’s first escape, but I had to pass a house draped in Confederate flags to get there. I learned about the Caroline County Courthouse where slave auctions were held, and just down the block, the local jail’s intake center. The sign out front told the story of voting for a state constitutional amendment banning slavery, since the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to Union states. Apparently Caroline County voters protested their disenfranchisement, claiming their votes against the amendment were destroyed. Voter disenfranchisement, right. I got lost over and over again, because there aren’t a lot of signs out here, and I wonder the backstory, what kinds of resistances have been thrown up at every stage of remembrance. And then I made it to stop 31, Adkins Arboretum. Oh, it was worth the trip, a walk through an upland forest and an audiotour that described the role the natural environment played in enabling and hindering flights to freedom. Each track trailed off with different names of freedom seekers, and I wanted to know them all. William Still kept a book of all who passed through his Philadelphia office. Two of them turned out to be the brothers his parents had had to leave behind. They’d been sold to Kentucky, but 27 years later, they were free, too. The sun had come out, and it was hot and sticky and the bugs, oh the bugs. In a car you. Don’t feel it. It’s different on a bike, too. Today was a good day to take a bit, slow down, walk, and listen.

Snowed-In Sidewalks in Charles Village

Snowed-In Sidewalks in Charles VillageI don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve had some snow storms here on the east coast. I love a snow day as much as the next school kid/employee, but oh, it’s ruining biking for me. I don’t bike on ice or snow, because staying upright demands not changing speed, changing direction, or braking, and those are three things I’m really in to doing when I’m on a ride. I’m happy to snuggle up with candy and television for the day, but the aftermath is terrible for anybody not in a car. T Continue reading

Shadow and Snow in Waverly at 30th & Greenmount

Shadow and Snow in Waverly at 30th & GreenmountI woke up to icy streets and sidewalks on Monday morning, bah humbug. My Facebook bicycle club was filled with slip-sliding stories from normally “I-bike-everywhere-why-don’t-you” badasses, so I decided to leave the wheels at home and walk to S.’s place in Waverly. Continue reading

Looking Down an Icy Sidewalk at 29th & St. Paul

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I know, I know, I could let some air out of my tires, get snow tires, ride slowly, and do fine on roads with some ice and snow remaining on them, but I could also just not ride the few days a year when there’s ice on the roads in Baltimore. Yeah, that’ll work, but I’m still not going to drive if I can help it, so I layered up and walked up and over to Waverly to meet O. and R. on Saturday. Yeah, I might rethink that decision next time, because the streets, especially the better-travelled ones, were mostly clear–wet, but not icy. The sidewalks, on the other hand, were treacherous ice sheets, glistening their evil eyes up at me as I made my way slowly and carefully, making sure of each footing before lifting another foot. The sidewalks were iced over because unlike the public property of the streets, sidewalks are the responsibility of individual homeowners, and apparently either individual homeowners don’t know that, or don’t care. The sidewalk in front of my house was iced up because I guess I was waiting for the landlord to deal with it. By the time I slid my way home that evening, though, I realized I had better remove enough ice for folks to pass easily. I chipped away, slowly but surely, and this morning it is starting to melt enough to make way. As I was chipping away, though, I wondered why we have individualized this particular collective infrastructral issue and not decided instead to spend our social wage to make easy passage for everyone, not just drivers. Because walking was truly dangerous yesterday, and how can it be that we make passage so dangerous, especially for those for whom walking is challenging in the first place? But hey, at least the roads are clear.

Rocks and Waves and Blue Skies at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg

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I meant to go for a bike ride today, but by the time I had time to myself, I was more in the mood for a slow amble. I walked right toward the ocean–is there another direction out here?–and took a right on the main drag for a stop at the post office to drop some postcards in the mail to M., S., and N., who rang me from her amble at just that moment. We swapped stories from our ambles, agreed it was The Greatest Day in the History of the World, and then parted phone ways to continue our respective walks. Mine took me to the fence blocking off the beach where the lumber mill used to be. There are still piles of lumber and reminders that work used to be done here, but now it is all NO TRESPASSING and that alone made the homes lining it a different world from the mansions just up the road; even paradise finds itself structurally adjusted. And then I found the entrance to the state park, and oh my, look at it. I walked, I sat, I listened, I waded, I waited, and then it was time to head back. I took my time walking along Highway 1, past the boarded-up bed and breakfasts and the gas stations and restaurants and the other attempts to figure out what to do to make this a place to make a living after the mill closed. I stopped for a fancy coffee, stopped in the store that sells only socks–I wonder how that’s going to turn out–tried on some ridiculously expensive shoes, and picked up an album for N.–don’t tell–and then it was dinner with friends and a walk back to E. and S.’s for wine, brownies, and baseball, just like the old days, another vacation win, much to think about, just like I like it.