Thursday, July 8, 2010

Before and after

I was flipping through some recent photos when it occurred to me I'd taken the same shot on two different occasions riding home from Davis.  The first was an April photograph I took to chronicle my first "mini-tour," riding the 40 miles to Davis and back.  The second was a June photograph I snapped to show off the recently overhauled Mercier mixte, Blaise, on the same ride.

Without thinking of it, I had photographed two different bikes at two different times of year in almost exactly the same spot. 

So, for the thousands of you who have been clamoring to know more about our climate here in the Central Valley of California, I offer this kinda cool before and after display.

Here's April:

Note the lush grasses and yellow blossoms in the field.  The orange sign on the left is apparently at the level of the vegetation.  It looks like a perfect field to run through, arms outstretched, to meet your beloved -- provided you were both characters in a bad movie.

Now, here's June:

What the hell happened here?  The orange sign is magically on four-foot stilts.  The green and yellow pasture is no longer the setting for a lover's reunion, but the scorched badlands where Clint Eastwood finally guns down his nemesis.

The clouds even offer a clue.  We don't get those puffy cumulus jobs much after the spring.  Instead, you see the wispy summer version.

Now, to make the cowboy movie setting complete...

Growing up in the Great Lakes region, the only tumbleweeds I saw were on screen with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.  And they were awesome. As far as scene-setting devices go, it's hard to beat the tumbleweed blowing through the deserted town square.  It told you most of you needed to know about what was happening. Tough town.  Only dangerous guys make it here. Big fight coming.

I remember desperately wanting two things as a kid:  saloon style half-doors in our kitchen (so I could push through them menacingly and pace over to the counter/bar, push back my hat and order a whiskey/Kool-Aid); and a real life tumbleweed to appear in our verdant yard.  Neither happened.

When I moved west, I stopped and gawked at the first 100 or so tumbleweeds I saw, still feeling lucky each time one blew across my path.

But this recent Davis-to-Sacramento bike ride was a bonanza I never expected.  Along the trail, gathered in a spot where the wind apparently deposited and ignored them, were hundreds of the things. 

As usual, my photography fails to capture the enormity of it all.  They went on for a hundred yards or more on both sides of the trail.  Any one of them would have been enough, had it appeared in my yard in 1973, to make my year.  Now, here were a thousand or so... and me without my cap gun, holster or hat.

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