Signs of spring

If you live in New York, have you been outside today? Yesterday? I certainly hope so, because even though it's still April, it felt like summer arrived this weekend.

I had some fun yesterday on an 80-mile ride that took us through orchards and along meandering rivers in Rockland County, northwest of New York City. My seatpost kept slipping down during my ride -- it has been slipping in spits and bursts for the last few weeks, but yesterday it slipped about an inch in a matter of minutes, and I spent the first half of the ride feeling like I was riding on a kiddie bike, my knees up in my chin. A riding buddy came up with the ingenious solution of attaching a clamp hose, begged from an auto repair shop along the route, right above the original clamp. That got me through the ride, and by the time the entire group met up for some beers by the river, the repair job was the talk of the day. Photo courtesy of another rider in our. Cyclists are such tech geeks! Imagine someone taking a picture of this repair job, just because it was clever. But I'm slowly seeing the charms of this way of thinking about bikes, and you can be sure that one of my first stops today was the bike shop, to get a real replacement clamp.

Like last spring, I feel so grateful this year to spend so much of my time outdoors. My biking habit exposes me to so many of the green spaces of New York and its environs, that there are times when I really forget that I'm living in one of the most densely packed cities in the U.S. This morning, for example, I rode my bike across the Hudson River, over the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee, New Jersey, where I cruised for 10 miles down "River Road," a paved trail through the forested banks of the Palisades Park. I have seen coyotes on this route, and hawks above, and I have picked raspberries from the rocky hillside -- enough wilderness to satisfy this city girl.

This is the time of year when the cherry trees are blooming in New York, when the daffodils are just about to pass, and the magnolias have been with us for a few weeks (oh, the magnolias!). Growing up in Minnesota, where only a few hardy crab-apple trees could survive the cold winters, I was surprised to move to New York and discover how many trees, and not just bushes and flowers, can actually bloom! This evening Chuan and I took a walk down the main pathway through Columbia University, just as the sun was setting orange above the Hudson. We walked through Riverside Park, where we saw tulips and daffodils, bleeding hearts and Dutchman's breeches, periwinkle and dogwoods. We turned at Grant's Tomb, entered Sakura Park (with its namesake cherry trees all a-flutter with pink blooms), and then headed home.

At our return, I promised Chuan a special dessert. "You know," I said, "How there are always things that are strawberries-and-cream flavored? Well, we're going to have the real thing and you can see what it's like." (This is what is delightful about having a spouse from a different culture: I get to show him all sorts of things for the first time, and see his wonder.)

When I was growing up, and we spent summers in Maine visiting my grandmother, my mother would sometimes serve my sister and me blueberries and cream, or strawberries and cream, or whatever wonderful New England berry was in season. This is a summer treat, to be sure, and though the calendar says that it is still spring, New York seems to have jumped from winter to summer in less than a fortnight's time. So Chuan and I had strawberries and cream for dessert, after our sunset on the Hudson. Not a bad way to end the weekend, or to celebrate this inter-season.


Gaining Back My Life said...

Having grown up in ND, it's difficult for me to comprehend the glory of the outside you have described here. Seems so...alive! I now live near the west coast, thank goodness.

That must have been a beautiful ride. And the strawberries & cram? I had those for dessert last night. Cheers!

Cammy said...

I have never been to New York, but after reading this I will make sure to try to schedule any future trip there for the spring! I'm so glad you have been able to get out and enjoy watching nature wake up again.

Just out of curiosity, how long does an 80-mile ride take? I have just recently taken up biking, and with my current skill, etc. that would be an unthinkable undertaking, I am in awe!

MrsMenopausal said...

It all sounds so wonderful! We sure were given a gorgeous weekend.

I love spring, too. It's my favorite season. The colors, the smells, the sights, and the produce.

PS: 80 miles? I'm such a slacker!

Kristina said...

Thanks for sharing and for being so inspiring in regards to the bike. I clipped back into my bike this weekend and tootled around the hills of the greater Los Angeles area. Although we don't have spring like the Northeast, it's wonderful to see what is in bloom. Roses, apparently. No 80-mile rides, but I managed to ride without falling down, bike attached to me.
And hooray for strawberries and cream!

Ai Lu said...

The 80 miles took about 5 hours of riding time but we were on the road much lnger, what with two food stops, two potty breaks, and the repair of my clamp. So it really took almost all day! We left at 8:00 am and I got home at 4:00pm or so.

Emily Jolie said...

Dear Ai Lu,

How lovely to read about your enjoyment of the Spring/early Summer in NY and all the beauty of the outdoors and seasonal treats! I always so enjoy your writing!

thinking of you,

with love,