Sunday, January 29, 2012


The weather has been certainly different this winter.

It isn't even February and look what I spied this morning.

I rode to work everyday during the month of December. I rode to work every day this January except two. On those two days the roads were snow covered and slippery. Other than that it has been easy commuting. And, I'm looking at abundant sunshine and temperatures in the 60F's for the rest of January. It's not that the mildness of the Winter is unwelcome, it just seems strange.

One can only wonder what February will bring.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I tend to get pensive on foggy days.

 Today it was foggy...and it was chilly.

Some at the bagel shop seemed surprised I rode today. Some asked, "Why?" I just shrugged my shoulders. I seldom try to explain why I ride to those who ask. Experience has taught me most really don't want to know my reasons. They have already made up their mind about the merits of riding and about my sanity or lack of it.

Today it occurred to me I ride to seek stillness. My soul yearns for stillness. Some may find my speaking of riding to seek stillness odd given I wear ear plugs to protect my ears while riding, but it is true. This stillness of which I speak isn't a lack of sound nor an absence of movement. No, it is a waiting...a waiting on life as it opens up. It is also a place...a place of willing response to what simply presents itself

Nearly all the major lifeways that humanity has discovered have some sort of chanting and/or repetitive prayer as a tool for cultivating this sense of stillness. As I ride, five some horses chant a call and response to Miss Billie's internal combustion. Sometimes my pieces of self, pieces most often scattered about, are gathered up in this steady thumping rhythm and I taste a becoming...I become THE watchful eye...I become THE listening ear. I become full...filled with All that surrounds me.

And, I am still.

At these times a knowing takes hold of me. It grasps me, but slips through the fingers of my brain as I try to grasp it. I'm left with only a taste of what was and could be again. Sometimes this taste of becoming lingers, but most often it is gone as soon as I take note of it.

 And, I'm left longing to ride again another day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

One of Those Days

There it was again. The funny light that sent us to the owner's manual to find out what it meant when it first came on shortly before the Yaris' first scheduled maintenance. It turns out to be a warning light that one of the tires is under-inflated. While I check the air pressure on Billie at least twice a week, I will admit to being much more lax when it comes to auto tires. I just use the eyeball method.

When the light came on that first time, a couple of years ago now, I looked and the tires looked fine. When I took it to the dealer the service tech said sometimes a big swing in temperature can cause it to come on. When I picked it up the light was off and it didn't come on again until right before we left for Kansas a few weeks ago. As luck would have it, once again the car was scheduled for its routine maintenance. And, once again the tires all looked fine. And, once again when I picked the car up the light was off and it remained off all the way to Kansas and back.

The light remained off until about a week ago. This time the car was not scheduled for service, but the tires all looked good. Last Thursday evening, the evening of the first snow, I mentioned to Heather that if any of the tires were low it was the right rear. She looked at them and thought they all looked the same. I reminded her I had said, "If."

Our first snow wasn't  much of a snow, but as usual it put the whole area into a tizzy. I took this photo on my way to work while passing Tower Grove Park.

Yesterday I drove to work again and when I came out after work I thought thr left rear tire looked perhaps a little lower, but I knew I might just be imagining it. When I got home it looked pretty much the same. You might be asking yourself, why didn't I just check the tire pressure. I thought about it, but the gauge I use to check the Symba's tire often lets out as much air as I put in. Not a problem with Symba's tire, just a few pumps on the floor pump and all is well eventually, but it seemed to me it could be a problem with the Yaris' tires. In my defense, the plan for today was to get a new gauge and check all the tires and then take appropriate action.

When I came out to begin my errands you know what I found. I'm sure I don't even need to tell you, do I? Yep, the left rear tire was flat. While Heather called roadside assistance I headed to the computer to read the local news and to feel sorry for myself while kicking myself for not having done something sooner.

One of the lead local news stories was about a fire in a dentist's office. It seems this dentist collected sports memorabilia. His office was filled with irreplaceable items like the official scorecard from Sept. 29, 1963, the last game played by Cardinals great Stan Musial. If you wish you can read the article about the fire by clicking here.

Needless to say, I felt a little small for being upset by a little thing like a flat tire after reading about the dentist's loss.

In a little over an hour the spare was on and I was ready to roll.
By the time roadside assistance got the tire changed out it was too late to take it to the shop I like to use. They close down early on Saturdays. I'm off work Monday and I'll take it in then. If one was to have a flat tire this one couldn't have been more convenient. It happened in front of my home, we have roadside assistance, and I can get the tire looked after Monday without burning a vacation day or a Saturday morning.

I was still determined to get a new tire gauge before another day passed. There is an AutoZone near Maplewood Scooter Company. I figured it only made sense to head that direction and combine getting the tire gauge with a nice visit with Mike talking about scooters and motorcycles.

I had no idea my usual route would take me right by the burned out dentist's office. Some days it is difficult to imagine that life isn't somehow all connected.

This turned out to be one of those days.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Hawk

I didn't own a camera before I owned a scooter. I now have two. Both are point and shoot cameras. Actually, they are basically the same camera. The only difference between the two is one is waterproof. It is the newer of the two. When I ride it hangs from a lanyard around my neck. The older one has a case with a loop that I can wear on my belt when I'm not riding. Now I seldom am without a camera.

Riding a scooter has opened up the world around me. I see things I don't remember noticing before. Riding prompted me to get a camera. Now I find the camera, too, opens my eyes.

Heather and I visited Forest Park Saturday. I wasn't riding, but I had my camera on my belt. We walked through the old-growth woods at one end of the park and we spied a hawk up in a tree. I wasn't looking for the hawk, but I was looking. Because I was looking I saw.

After our nature walk we spent a few hours in the Zoo, which is also located in Forest Park. There was much to see there, but the real treasure happened when we were leaving. I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped. I saw a hawk, perhaps the same hawk we'd seen earlier.

The hawk had it's prey. Its prey was struggling. Would it get away?

I watched and waited and took another photo.

And, I took another.

I've become a hunter much as the hawk. I collect images, some I capture in pixels, but most are but memories. Is it the hunt I enjoy or the freedom I feel as I ride? I don't know, but I sense I have a clue to what joy it must be to fly like the hawk, to respond to air currents and ride where they take me.

Ah, but there is a "but".

Last weekend we traveled to Kansas on I-70. We don't travel this road much. When we do travel on I-70 it is usually East rather than West. And, I-44 sees even more of our time. I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City is different from the other Interstates we travel in at least one regard. The median is quite narrow. The median on I-70 to Indianapolis is much wider, as is the one on I-44. We noticed something as we drove West. We had never seen as many dead hawks on the road. Truthfully, we had hardly ever seen a dead hawk on the road. Heather was driving when I saw something unfold that I think may be the answer. A hawk went to fly from the median and barely escaped being hit by an oncoming truck. I suspect the nice mowed median makes for a great hunting area as it does on the other Interstates I mentioned, but the narrowness of this particular section means greater danger for these big birds as they attempt to fly off.

There is danger in riding. Riding calls for vigilance. A momentary lapse of attention at the wrong time and like the hawks on I-70 we can cease being the proud predator and fall prey to disaster.

There is something very natural about this, I suppose. Human's spend much time being the hunter and forget they too can be the hunted. I've come to wonder if knowing this is a vital part of our being--part of our feeling really alive. I hope to be wondering about this for many more miles.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Second Day of the Year

I didn't ride on New Year's Day, but I did make it out on the second day of the year.

My first ride of the new year was loosely tied to two destinations: Carodolet Park and Tower Grove Park. It was 33F with wind gusts of 40mph. Not ideal riding conditions, but other than the wind gusts not that bad either. Most importantly there was an abundance of sunshine.

I don't like wind, but I hadn't ridden since last Thursday and I was beginning to get a little grouchy. I was needing space.


Riding gives me space, and with space comes things of the spirit . . . and when moving with the things of the spirit can come gratitude. It's difficult, perhaps impossible to be grouchy and grateful at the same time.

First off I headed for Carodolet Park. I discovered this park anew when I traced the route of the Rock and Roll Marathon. It has become a favorite space of mine ever since.

There is still a surprising amount of green around. And, don't you think clouds look crisper on a chilly day?

And, surrounded by trees that have lost their leaves, don't the trees with needles seem to stand a little more proudly?

While not as windy as the day before, it was still plenty windy. You can see the mist from the aeration plume being blown toward the Boathouse.

Next to Tower Grove Park.

But, on my way to Tower Grove Park I happened by Roosevelt High School. 

The light wasn't the best, but I couldn't resist taking a photo of this beautiful building.

And, now Tower Grove Park.

What I love about Tower Grove Park is its wonderful picnic shelters and pavilions. I travel by the southern boundary of the Park on my morning commute to work.

It seems that nearly every park of any size in the City has water features. Tower Grove Park is no exception.

Yes, it says, "No Parking". But, I'm sure the sign was meant for something other then the beautiful Miss Billie, aren't you?

Did I mention the wind was blowing?

I thought I had.

Did I mention I was getting grouchy?

If I did, never mind.