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Monthly Archives: September 2012

In my second spinning class which came just a day and a half after my first spinning class, I decided to ignore the instructor and pedal at my own pace. That was easy since the music was so loud that I could not hear her anyway. I did stand and sit when others did so as not to be rude.

But, in my mind’s eye, I retraced the 20-plus mile route I know so well from my Georgetown house along Que Street and into Rock Creek Park. I went up and down hills, passed the outdoor gym equipment, under bridges, behind the zoo where the Panda cub just died, past the mill and onto Beach Drive (closed to traffic on weekends). In awhile, I came to another piece of road that runs beside the creek and is shaded by a grand urban forest whose tree leaves must now be changing color, and past the rest rooms at the picnic sites (they probably have not yet been locked for the season). Then comes the long downhill where my speed could get to be 19 or 20 miles an hour before leveling out again to pass playing fields, tennis courts, residential cul-de-sacs.

The next bit is a hard slog on roads past undistinguished Maryland suburb houses, the Big Wheel bike shop and the fancy dry cleaner who could net rectify the damage done to Cousin Minnie’s 19th century capes, hats, skirts and bathing suit in the flood in the Kennel House, and across the East-West Highway with the help of a traffic light. The trail is dirt and gravel as it passes through the country club golf course on what’s called the Georgetown Branch in honor of an out-of-use railway. A Whole Foods affords a chance to demount, pee and buy whatever groceries will fit in my backpack for the final leg. After a long tunnel, the path arrives in Bethesda at the Barnes and Noble and the start of the Capital Crescent Trail.

It’s mostly downhill from here but more complicated to ride since people are pushing strollers, walking dogs or biking too fast. I had not noticed the coincidence that a tunnel on the trail is called Dalecarlia just like the ugly intersection in Wakefield until I was taking this imaginary ride. Both were named around the turn of the 19th (to 20th) century for a Swedish resort that must have been popular with Americans at the time. In recent years, the trail has come to a polished, hard-scaped end in the Georgetown Waterfront Park.

I miss that ride. I did it most weekends for many years. Any non-spinning bike rides of consequence in Rhode Island require putting my bike on the back of the car for the first leg. No simple pedaling past the garden gate to embark in DC.

While the spinning class doesn’t hold a candle to an outing through Rock Creek, it does exercise the big muscles in my legs. And in 45 minutes indoors, I can review a two-hour outdoor ride. It’s a time saver! My apologies to any readers who made it this far. All the images are in my head.

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As soon as the sun heats the meadow to the day’s highest temperature, the dragonflies take flight. They fly above the grasses in a zone about 8 feet deep for hours. Swooping one way, then the other, they don’t land for photos. They also don’t show up in a photograph unless the camera is pointed into the sun.

For the second year, I have breathed a sign of relief at this activity. I take it to mean that herbicide applications have not killed off the dragonflies or the insects they are eating on the wing.

The photo doesn’t capture the excitement. You have to be looking at or standing in the meadow to know the marvel of it. And it is marvelous — every warm sunny day of late summer.

“What you need is a few sunflowers,” suggested the goldenrod authority. He was circling the meadow in fading light as evening was settling in. He had observed that I had nothing but the usual goldenrod, but to my great disappointment he would not name them. I was hoping for an authoritative identification of the few species that populate the field.

Sunflowers were not on my radar. The only native sunflower I know prefers woodland of which I have almost none. But scanning the meadow bursting with goldenrod I decided what I want is more asters like these New York asters that grow near the bog.

The goldenrod authority was also a house guest, and notwithstanding the sunflower suggestion, brought an aster as a gift. I planted his aster on Monday but it looked lonely. Wednesday bought 6 more: Rhody Native asters ( 3 A. novi-belgii and 3 A. undulatus) from Blue Moon Nursery. Emily planted them at the edge of meadow between “Susan’s folly” and the veggie garden. These seven asters have their work cut out to begin to balance the resurgence of goldenrod where Bittersweet used to dominate.

A year ago, I could not have imagined that I would have a field yellowed with Goldenrod today. It seems that where I disturbed the ground in pulling Bittersweet, Goldernrod seeded.

Area formerly Bittersweet dominated to south of veggie garden

Goldenrod filling in where Bittersweet used to rule