Tag Archives: environment

Finding some beauty in a dreary Ohio January

Ohio is experiencing yet another random January. Snow one day, rain  the next; 10 degrees one day, 50 the next. And so it goes. Typical Ohio weather.

Every year, people comment on how strange this winter is and the usual contention is that it is all the result of global warming — which is no doubt true. Those of us who are at least 40 years old will swear that we had a LOT more snow in our childhoods than our children have ever seen.

I distinctly remember clearly 29 years ago, just six years after New Jersey scientist Wally Broecker coined the term, “global warming”. It was early February, because daughter number one was just one month old. She and I ventured out for a walk on a sunny, balmy day — I wore shorts and a t-shirt, she in a light sleeper and tucked into the Snugli.

The truth is, Ohio winters can be very dreary. Sunny days are few and far between. SAD is a common phenomena, so the sale of “happy lights” increases in winter time. In fact, as I write this, my SunTouch is cranked up on high.

Surprisingly, I woke up this morning to sun shining in the window. Five hours later, it has disappeared behind a bank of clouds threatening us with some sort of precipitation. But for the few hours that the sun was out, it was glorious.

Sunday is a day off from running, so I opted for a walk through Motter Metropark, a small park on the edge of town. It’s about two miles in length, and rambles through former farmland and a small woods.

The higher parts of the trail are frozen but at the lower end, one has to walk carefully, hopping chunks of dirt to avoid wet feet — a thin layer of ice covers large areas of standing water.

It occurred to me that although we often view this time of year as dreary with little color dotting the landscape, it’s also good to remember that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” My friend, Joanne, commented that she has snowdrops blooming. Though I didn’t see any signs of those tiny white flowers, I decided to focus on what signs of beauty dot our landscape. Here are some examples:

Bicycles R Us

Some families have lots of cars and a few bikes. We have lots of bikes and one car. Well, technically we have three cars but two of them have decamped for Kent and Cincinnati. In the worst of winter, we have to shuffle the bikes to make room for the car which most of the time resides in the driveway.

We (technically, just I) ride a bike year round — when possible. The other person in this house is more of a fair-weather rider. So when fair weather arrives, we begin the ceremonious “opening of bike season”.

This is a bigger deal than you might think. For starters, we begin pulling them out for inspection. Suddenly, it occurs to both of us that it is entirely possible we have acquired too many bikes so we speculate on what to do. This is where the arguments start. Which to get rid of? Which to keep?

Understand that I am protective of my bikes. So what if I can only ride one at a time and quite honestly, I really only use two of them anymore. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to pitch them. So…here we go with another list…

Bike number 1: My Suntour recumbent trike. This is a no-brainer. It stays.

Bike number 2: Dad’s 12-speed Concord. It stays because it is now the husband’s. In fact, we finally got it fixed and it’s rideable. The bike guys couldn’t figure out how to fix it because a part wasn’t available. Then a salesman walked in…turns out he knows exactly what to do. A whack to the gear something-or-other and bingo! It’s fine.

Bike number 3: Anne’s old mountain bike, which is in mint condition but is too small. She says it feels like she’s sitting on the ground. Needs a new home. Somehow it just hasn’t found a new owner.

Bike number 4: This is a found object. It’s a faded blue 10-speed of indeterminate origin. This is also the product of my bad habit of finding things. We saw it propped up against a power pole along the road when we trekked the National Quarry trail. It looked sad and forlorn. It also had a set of red mesh LL Bean panniers attached to its rack. Which I wanted. So we took it. Some well-worded cursing accompanied the detachment of the panniers.

Bike number 5: Another of my dad’s bikes. Apparently, he shared my bike disease.  This is a beautiful turquoise road bike, bought after the 12-speed threw him. It’s a hybrid of Concord frame, Sakae parts and some other brand. Next to my Raleigh 5-speed, it has the best seat for bony butts. This is the one I most hate to part with because it makes me feel closer to my dad. Maybe I can convince one of my brothers to take it.

Bike number 6: The tandem. Every time we ride it I’m reminded of Kate Patterson teaching us “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true…” Of course, I’m also singing to cover up my terror. The husband — he who knows no fear — is in control. As a back seat rider, I have no control. He literally rides by the seat of his pants. Just watch next time. As we careen around corners, that smile on my face? Look closer. It’s a grimace. Still, I have to thank my brother and SIL for giving it to us. James plopped it on the rack of his Volvo sedan, drove through the mountains of VA and West VA, and delivered it to my front door.

Bike number 7 — My Raleigh 5-speed women’s touring bike. Dad bought it used for my mom about 25 years ago. She rode GOBA on it (in her 60s); the sticker is still on the frame. The seat is the cushiest — better than the new gel seats.

Bike number 8 — This is by far my most valued bike — even more so than my beloved recumbent. It’s the vintage 1938 balloon tire, coaster brake cruiser that my grandparents gave my mom on her 16th birthday. There is nothing like a slowwwww cruise around the neighborhood. Very slow. And no, it is not for sale.

There you have it. Bicycle City. The only person who can match me is my neighbor, Mitch, whose wife once begged me not to tell him about another sad, forlorn bike just waiting to be rescued.

So my garage is crowded? In the long run, I figure I’m way ahead of the game, as far as the environment is concerned.