I love riding on the bike path near our house. I am by no means a serious cyclist. I ride purely for recreation without any of the equipment that serious cyclists find necessary – except for a bike, of course. I love identifying different birds, animals, and flowers that inhabit the area around the bike path. One week I was lucky enough to see a Blue Bunting twice.Â It was the brilliantÂ blue of a tropical bird, and I could hardly believe it existed in Ohio.
A few weeks before that, I came upon a mama skunk’s three babies before I could tell what they were (perhaps not so lucky). To my chagrin, they had their tails raised. There was no way to stop before I reached them, so I decided that the best course of action would be to race on by them as quickly as I could.Â I wondered if I would have to bathe in tomato juice over the nextÂ month to rid myself of the odor. But as luck would have it, they were probably too young to do any damage (although I could smell that mama had been nearby at some point).Â Past them, I was relieved to find some goldfinches and a cottontail or two toÂ counter the excitement of the skunks.
My ears have an evenÂ better memory than my eyes, so listening to things on the bike path is even more satisfying. The songs of the birds and insects are numerous and varied according to the time of day.Â The birds singÂ most loudly in the morning, and theÂ crickets chirp near evening.Â But the cicadas seem to sing nonstop.Â Running over dead leaves on the path is also quite satisfying. The crunch is crisp, and I aim for small piles of leaves so that I can hear more crunching. The lack of noise makes every sound significant, and the quiet of the bike path invites reflection and meditation.
I also love the feeling of escape as I roll down the bikepath and feel theÂ wind blowing over me.Â SometimesÂ it is refreshing and exciting; sometimes it is healing.Â Nearly always, it reminds me to be grateful that I can experience the pleasure of simple things.