It's been said many times before, but traveling by bicycle is likely the best way to discover interesting attractions or mini-spectacles. On foot, there the slow pace of the journey often makes even small detours impractical. That promising country road you encounter is usually too long to investigate properly if you're going to get where you're going. In a car, the opposite phenomenon takes hold: you're usually passing things too quickly to get a sense of why they might be interesting to take a closer look. By the time you see the country road or the estate sale sign or the bird-vs.-squirrel drama, you're already past it.
Last week, a kite (the living kind, not the kind on a string) kindly held his spot in the air, hovering, until I had cycled almost directly underneath him. Then, he tucked his wings and plunged into the brush not 15 feet from the bike path. He emerged with what I would have to guess was a very surprised field mouse in his talons and flapped off to his treetop home.
You don't get that kind of show in a car.
Slightly less dramatic but still fulfilling were two encounters in recent days. The first came on a chilly ride to Winters, past fields and farms and orchards. Not far off the main road, workers were pruning the walnut (?) trees and making huge bonfires from the cuttings. Cycling a quarter mile or so to get a closer view was easy and fun. The fire felt great on a cold day and the smell made me think of simpler times when we all burned our leaves in the autumn. If there's a better smell than wood burning in an open field on a chilly day, I don't know what it is.
Closer to home, a neighbor had placed the cuttings from his/her dogwood (or maybe cherry?) tree on the street for pickup. The smell was gorgeous and enjoyable even cycling past at a good clip. On the way home, I decided to stop and load up on a few branches to put in a vase at home.