At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Turkey Vulture

I’ve been cycling quite a bit this month. I try diligently to ride five days per week (weather being the wild card) over miles and miles of somewhat neglected asphalt.

One can’t ignore the road kill.

Out here in corn country, there’s quite a bit of carnage along our back roads. Each corpse leaves an impression as I coast by. Some sights are sad, indeed, like the two young raccoons expired side-by-side. Family tragedies are always harder to bear. The possums and raccoons generally have it the worst. I imagine the blinding lights and roaring engines that seemingly appear from nowhere wreak havoc on a midnight forager’s brain.

There are oddities, too. A stretch of road alongside a flooded field was a graveyard for, literally, hundreds of frogs. There must have been a dark night mass migration. Why? To what purpose (the end, after all, was evident)? There was nothing more than a strip of suburban homes on the other side. What did the frogs seek? Was it something truly worth dying for?

And there was the turkey vulture.

I rarely see turkey vultures ‘round these parts. They generally roost farther south. Came to learn that the population is growing by double-digits in northern Illinois. I’m glad for that. I find them intriguing. From the neck down, they’re gorgeous. And they’re large, gliding on wings spanning six feet. They soar effortlessly surfing updrafts, wings forming a graceful “V.” They don’t exercise those wings much, opting to be kites instead. Their plumage is of earth hues, soothing and subtle. From the neck up, well, it’s a different story. Their heads are feather free. One recoils from the mottled, wrinkled skin and impassive eyes. The visage is sinister and...well...they won’t be winning any beauty contests...ever. And I marvel at the mysteries/creativity of adaptation. What good are feathers on the head of a carrion-eater who sups with his head buried deep in entrails? Ugliness is next to cleanliness in the vulture world. We humans often favor beauty to the exclusion of all other considerations. Vultures are more pragmatic...and they soar magnificently.

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New Wheels

I picked up my new bike a coupla days ago. Still kinda shaking my head in awe of the technology. This bike has a carbon-fiber frame and fork. Carbon-fiber crankset and pedals. Fancy-schmantsy integrated gear shifters/brakes. Aerodynamic spokes and a saddle that's a byproduct of the Spanish Inquisition. Oh, and the tires? They’re racing slicks about the width of my little finger. This creature is a sophisticated machine designed to fly precariously but as fast as possible.

It’s gonna take some getting used to.

My first ride was a thrill ride. Nothing felt the same, nothing came automatically. My torso was now stretched considerably forward, so much so that my neck muscles began to ache from the strain of keeping eyes forward. The bike felt ephemeral. The gearing is different and shifting required new thought patterns. I didn’t see much of my surroundings, so busy was I trying to wrap my mind around a whole new experience.

This bike is fast.

I mean faster than my brain. Faster, much faster, than my trusty hybrid.

Wicked fast.

I rode twenty miles and came home slightly shaky, neck aching and butt on fire.

Methinks I’m falling in love.

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Friday, July 15, 2011


Plains Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

This video transports me to a good place. I hope it carries you there, too.

I've been thinking about "day-blind" stars lately. It comforts me, somehow, to know they are ever present, even when the day's glare overwhelms. Come the night, come becomes manifest.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Son of...

Seventh Decade Musings (Part Deux)...

I’ve been rather pensive the last few days. I’ve taken to cycling almost daily. Riding along open country roads a few hours at a time tends to send a loosely tethered mind such as mine adrift...and I was already in a “musing” kinda mood.

I believe I’ve mentioned, a time or two, that I participate in a few different Internet forums. There’s my beloved marathoners’ forum and several political, economic and investing boards. I’ve actually met a great number of the marathoners over the course of a decade. Even ran with a few a race or two. I’ve never met anyone from the other boards.

Yesterday, I learned that a frequent poster (a man my age) on an investing board passed away. It seems like it’s often that way. Here today. Gone tomorrow. No hint or warning. This particular individual had invested heavily in silver. He posted daily about any and every aspect of silver mining, silver’s market price and his specific investments. He was passionate about silver.

And in the blink of an eye he’s gone.

I hope he was happy doing what he was doing, spending his days the way he spent them. I wish that for everyone. I wish that for me.

I consider myself fortunate, indeed, that I can spend hours and days on end cycling along country roads. I find it both spiritually and physically satisfying.

But I’m greedy. I want ever more of each day to be satisfying, not just the time spent cycling. As a consequence, I’m drawn ever more towards emigrating to Lithuania.

I’ll be riding hundreds upon hundreds of miles this summer (Fate willing). I’ve lots to ponder. It pleases me that my musings often orbit about Joy.

* * *

Two days ago, I placed an order to buy me a righteous road bike. The technology amazes. This bike is a concretion of carbon fiber and sublime alloys. I’m finally ready to handle a bike such as this. I’m ready to venture farther and further.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

I'm at Peace

I’m at peace when I cycle along country roads. Not always, mind you. I don’t fare well in traffic. I’ve come to understand that my cousin’s fatality and my own near-fatal motorcycle crash left indelible prints. Luckily, I live in a sparsely populated area with miles upon miles of open country roads. I can often pedal a mile or two in solitude. I am happiest then.

I’m not oblivious when at peace. Quite the contrary. My senses become more acute. I feel the air around me, each temperature change and shift of breeze. I smell the earth. I try to decipher bird calls and smile because Life abounds. My senses become acutely aware...except for the eyes that inexorably fade in acuity. Sigh.

I dissolve into my own body. Breath and pulse, aches and strains make themselves felt, observed and understood.

It is good to become pure animal again.

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