I drew this elaborate poster for a little competition in my town, but it didn’t win. On the plus side, now I can share it here! You can click on it to view it larger. It is 18 x 24 inches.
There’s been some whinging about our late spring going around the cycling listserve in my town. To stop it in its tracks*, someone sent out a link to this photo this morning.
The caption for this photo (on http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/sur-la-plaque-rule-9/), reads “LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR. IF YOU DON’T SEE ICE, YOU’RE NOT AS BADASS AS GREG. PERIOD.”
That’s rule number 9.
Well, I’ve ridden in with ice on my clothing before, but nothing so solid looking as his helmet! On my coldest ride this winter (well below 0 F), the contents of my water bottle froze solid on my way to work. I frequently end up with a rim of ice around my headband and scarf.
But I think I can easily go ahead and say I am not as hardcore as Greg.
Also, if you’re a winter cyclist, you may have noticed that it seems tougher to ride in the cold (i.e. I get tired more quickly in the winter). On one of the coldest days this winter, I had a strong temptation to stop, curl up into a ball, and take a nap.
Anyway, here is an article discussing why it really is harder to ride in colder temps: http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-faq-why-is-riding-in-the-cold-so-hard_277626
I knew it!
*That’s a pun!
A flood as the day releases
and the whole snow world
is neither wet nor deep, but primary.
Colour so inherent, it does not fall
but rises from my skin,
the snow, the trees, the road.
This blue isn’t built or grown.
It has no tissue, nothing
to touch or taste or bring to mind
a memory, no iris or artery,
no gentian, aconite or anemone,
no slate, plum, oil-spill or gun,
no titanium or turquoise,
no mercury or magnesium,
no phosphorus, sapphire or silver foil,
no duck egg or milk jug,
no chambray, denim or navy,
no indigo, octopus ink, no ink,
no element. The blue moment,
sininen hetki in a language that claims
no relation but greets in passïng
picture blue, cyan. Ultraviolet
twilight, higher than the heaven
of swimming or flying – no splash.
A time without clouded objects,
in which you might become the glass
you swallowed through cold.
Light draws back
behind the rim of the eye as it closes.
I keep my distance, as things turn blue
through stillness and distance,
as everything blue is distant.
- Lavinia Greenlaw
It’s been a while since I posted a poem, so here’s one from Ronin Waters about missing Summer in the dead of Winter.
I love your long green hair
and your brown thighs
The way I blush and darken
when you kiss me.
I love your sultry nights
and warm sighs
against my neck
And the stars in your eyes.
I love your sudden storms
Your lightning and thunder
I love dancing in your rain
Warm rivulets on my skin.
I love your light
The way you linger
The smells of you
Or fresh and green
Or dark as dirt.
Everything is alive in you
Vicious, passionate, wonderful
Everything is gold in you
hot and somehow wild.
Everything is ancient
And everything is new.
And now this old man
Is panting at my window
fogging up the glass
With his rattling breath.
Raking at my skin with his claws
His teeth chattering in his jaws
Howling in the panes
Shaking the leaves from the trees.
Where is your light?
Where is your warmth?
Don’t leave me to this old man
Don’t betray me to his knobby fingers
And brittle laugh.
When you return with your giggles
When you run your fingers through my hair again
And kiss me til I smile.
I’ll forget how you left me for lost
Your fickle nature.
Your blinding beauty.
A Calendar of Sonnets: January
O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.
O Heart, when Love’s sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter’s own release.
- Helen Hunt Jackson
I am not a big fan of snow. Mostly because there are no insects in the snow. But it sure is pretty! When I was in the southern hemisphere, I posted photos of flowers for folks in the northern hemisphere. Now that I am in the northern hemisphere, here are some pictures of snow for folks in the southern hemisphere.
I learned to ski in the Rocky Mountains. I’m passionately in love with downhill skiing, naturally, and I love skiing on ice. I love that sound your skis make when they have no traction as they skid over rough ice: shhhhhhiik!
But I’m living in Pennsylvania now and, although there is some downhill skiing, there isn’t really any…you know, downhill skiing. Not compared to Colorado anyway. So I figured it would be any easy thing to transfer to cross-country skis. Not so!
The first time I went cross-country skiing, there was a meter of snow on the ground. Which was lucky, since I must have fallen 14 times in the first hour. As I quickly learned, cross-country skis attach to your feet differently, respond to your weight differently, and do not turn or stop in the same ways as downhill skis.
So when I tried to go around a bend, FWOMP! into the powder, I went.
When I tried to slow down going down a slope, FWOMP! into the powder, I went.
It was about 10 degrees F (about -12 C), but after a few hours I had worked up quite a sweat. I was hot enough to peel off my jacket, then my sweater, then my gloves.
The next time I went FWOMP! into the powder, I came up gasping. I had never been so cold, so fast before.
One time, as I wobbled, trying to get my balance, I windmilled my arms and (gracefully) flung my pole 15 feet into the forest.
At the bottom of one particularly steep hill, my friend (who had patiently stuck with me all this time), turned to watch me come down.
Later, after she stopped laughing, she quipped, “I saw you coming down that hill and you were headed straight for a tree…only you didn’t look scared, you looked happy!”
And I was. I saw that tree and I knew. I knew that was how I was going to stop.
*That’s a deliberate misspelling; fair warning that I’m going to make a pun.
Whew, what a week. It has certainly been a week. Have you had a week as well?
Here’s a story and a pun for your Friday reading pleasure.
I’ve been a bicycle commuter for a few years now and there are all sorts of crazy stories I could tell you about my adventures on bike, but it’s February and there’s snow and I was reminded of a strange thing that happened a couple of years back in February, with snow. (See how my logic works today? I’m very sorry about all that.)
I was riding home in the evening after work, and the roads were still fairly clear. It was dark, as it usually is in February in the northern hemisphere, and it was cold, perhaps -15 C (5 F).
But, there was a weather forecast for a heavy winter storm that night, and through the next day. Perhaps 25 cm (9.8 in) of snow accumulation.
As a result, there were huge trucks driving about, spraying the roads with a chemical mixture to prevent the formation of ice. They are called “anti-icers” and they operate by decreasing the temperature at which water freezes. There are a few different mixes, but typically they use magnesium chloride and brine.
Well, one of these pretreatment trucks blew past me, on my bike, in the bike lane, and completely covered both of us (my bike and myself) in the pretreatment liquid. It was awful, truly horrible stuff. I had chunks of salt on my face, and the chemicals corroded my cables so badly that I had to replace the whole set of brake and gear cables.
On the plus side, now I have this terrible pun for you:
You could say I was “assalted”.
We have 27 cm of snow on the ground and it’s still falling. I’m not a huge fan of snow (makes it hard to run!), but I thought it was high time for a snowy poem.
Yesterday they were denticulate as dandelion greens, they
locked together in spokes and fell so weightlessly
I thought of best friends holding hands.
And then of mating hawks that soar into the air to link their claws
and somersault down, separating just before they touch the ground.
Sometimes the snowflakes glitter, it’s more like tinkling
than snow, it never strikes, and I want to be struck, that is
I want to know what to do. I begin enthusiastically,
I go in a hurry, I fall pell-mell down a hill, like a ball of yarn’s
unraveling trajectory—down and away but also surprising ricochets
that only after seem foretold. Yesterday I took a walk because
I wanted to be struck, and what happened was
an accident: a downy clump floated precisely in my eye.
The lashes clutched it close, melting it against the eye’s hot surface.
And like the woman talking to herself in an empty church
who eventually realizes she is praying, I walked home with eyes that melted snow.
- Jennifer Grotz
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.
- Stanley Kunitz