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The Greens of Summers

This morning when I set out for my bike ride at 8 a.m. I had already made a deal with myself. Just get on the bike, just go 14 miles (it’s my shortest route); just get through it. It was already 77 degrees F. with 70 % humidity. This is not the Minnesota I love, green or not. This is the Minnesota my parents smugly dismiss on phone calls from Arizona where they have “dry heat.”

It was one of those mornings when drivers of mommy vans, already dehydrated from their morning coffee and giddy from the car air conditioning hug too closely to the bike lane. You can either hop the curb to avoid them or use your finger—to leave them notes in the dust on their car. That’s how close they are.

What makes cycling in these stifling conditions doable is the shade on River Road (and Mississippi Blvd.)—green, green, green, dappling the road with oasis after oasis of shade. My body sends signals of relief the moment I enter the zone, and flags in despair when I leave one. But I keep peddling. There is no sound except the rush of air in my ears and the silence of the gears moving, moving, moving.


Spring, Sunshine, Smells, and Memories of Childhood

Above: The plum tree in the vacant lot is in bloom. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Allergies, a couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone, and one particularly troubling episode of Lost in Space have made me deeply suspicious, if appreciative (for that CO2 exchange and shade to name two things), of flowers, trees, and plants in general.

But every spring I have three botanical events that are huge for me. We hit one today. I walked out of the house to ride my bike and the smell from the plum tree just outside our yard hit my nose and propelled me back to childhood—like Pavlov's dogs I started salivating…insistent, uncontrolled. It was as if I had just got on my bike after visiting Rudebaugh's (the ex-burb convenience store where I scored my candy).


Don’t Buy Blue Tires and Other Thoughts of Spring

Above: One of the blue tires in question. Yes it is blue on the base too, but that is already road dirty. And yes my bike is blue and isn't that matchy-matchy? (Where is Tim Gunn when you need him?)

The past few weeks have brought an early spring to Minnesota, melted the snow, and left a wonderful drifting sandbar at the edge of all the roads (we put sand and salt on our winter roads and that doesn't get washed off until spring cleaning which comes much later because, hey, it could still SNOW).

Back when I had the girls, I would have been upset at the fair weather, proceeding so quickly to summer heat and humidity. Slow cool springs are a delight when you work tracking dogs. Even if you work all winter as we did, the spring season gives them time to adjust and build a heat tolerance. If you think it's cool walking in the fields while you work your dog get down in the weeds, lie down in the grass, it's a good deal warmer down there for beings who don't sweat!

But I don't have dogs now, and the rising temperatures are just too good to overlook, so like other bicycle loving folks I have taken to the road again. But first I had to go to the bicycle repair shop and have my bike spruced up.


Profile: Ken Avidor


The above illustration is by Ken Avidor.

This post is the first in a series of profiles on creative people I admire. I hope their work will inspire you along your own creative path, regardless of how different that path might be.

Ken Avidor is a Minneapolis-based cartoonist, illustrator, and journal keeper extraordinaire. I met Ken and his also fabulously talented wife Roberta—more on her another day—when I was involved in the Minnesota Journal Project 2000.


Hairdos Matter

Hairdos matter. How I rediscovered the single braid when I started bicycling after a 20 year break.

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