Mums and I have gone cycling two days in a row. Both times, we've emerged sweaty but relatively unscathed (Mums bloodied her arm and her right shin yesterday, and today I ended up with a sunburnt patch around my watchband and a couple of bruises on my left calf), feeling as if we'd spent hours in a live-action Impressionist landscape.
Dapples of shade and sunshine through canopies of dancing green leaves covered both the North Augusta Greeneway (named for a Mayor Greene, not an attempt at ye olde tyme spelling as it might first appear) on Tuesday and the Augusta Canal path today. There even were ponds with water lilies (my most loathed Monet series). An eighteen-inch black snake rippled across the asphalt ahead of my bike tire, and we saw a bluebird and countless turtles sunning themselves and diving deep into green weedy water. Though summer is basically upon us (it's been in the upper eighties lately), some flowers still bloomed in springtime profusion.
And it was so pleasantly quiet! There were spells when the trails ran across or alongside a road, and of course that was noisy and noisome, but there were long stretches where the sounds of the clicking bicycle gears and the scream of a hawk and the trickle of water were the loudest around.
A long-held wish of mine has been to ride in the locomotive of a freight train all around the country, not just because I like trains, but because I'd get to see my homeland from an exceptional perspective--from the backlots of urban areas to the wild countryside. Biking lends you a little of this feeling, as even when you travel roads that you've walked or driven dozens, even hundreds of times, you are observing the area at a different speed, from a different angle, and so you notice different things. As I whirled along in the heat this afternoon, I thought of my photography mentor back at the University of South Carolina, who instead of making stiff studio portraits from a standing position would crouch on the floor in front of his subjects' chair and encourage them to talk about their interests--he said that way, he not only was physically approaching his work from an unexpected point of view, he was inviting the person to reveal their personality to the camera. I like to see my environment's character likewise.