I live, as the crow flies, a little over a mile from the Wisconsin River. It’s sandy down here… like superfine sugar. The sand works it’s way into the house, between floor boards, into the furniture, your clothes and even some windy days into your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. You just feel the grit.
It’s not all dust storms (yes, we get them here in the Wisconsin River Valley) and Dust Devils. We live in an area blessed with an abundance of wildlife. Not too far north of here is an area where the songbirds that spend their breeding season up in the arctic, winter, and the birds that spend their winters in Central and South America spend their breeding season. I’m guessing that they don’t read maps or pay strict attention to latitude and longitude, because we sometimes get a seldom-seen visitor coming through the yard.
This morning, as the sun rose and the breeze was minimal, I ventured out on my third bicycle ride of the season. I got in 13 miles, including a jaunt to the river and back. I love seeing this area progress through the seasons, though I don’t care to see how many people treat it like their personal dumping grounds.
If you’ve a sensitive nose, this area, and other sloughs (pronounced “slews”), also smells a wee bit ripe in spring from rotting vegetation (and wildlife that died during the winter). I imagine it to be what Dagobah (Star Wars reference) would smell like. The only thing missing is Yoda.
The other night, Mr. Muse and I made our way to the river and spotted our first bat and turtles of the season. It was good to see them back. This morning, as I rode my way down to the river, I saw a sad scene of a large bull snake that had been run over, a black vulture aborting its landing for breakfast as it spotted me. I didn’t spot any turtle this morning, but there were mallard ducks, pairs of geese and many songbirds. I could hear sandhill cranes calling in the distance and spotted a few turkeys take off through the underbrush.
We’ve not often spotted larger fauna, other than a black coyote a few years ago that would hunt in the field down the road, but we do hear about them. We also hear them. Coyotes hunt behind our property and on summer nights it’s not unheard of to wake up to a packs’ screaming as they hunt along the fenceline. There were two occasions when Mr. Muse and I could hear wolves off in the distance down by the river. Black bears have wandered through town and we have found tracks of all other manner of creatures on our property, including a martin.
These rides on my bicycle offer a different view than those gotten at 55 mph on the backroads. I gain appreciation for how life continues forth, and yet on the opposite hand, I have developed a more intense disdain for those who treat the world as their personal trash can.
I have also gained an appreciation for padded cycling shorts.
Do not mock my padded cycling shorts. I mock them enough on my own.