Saturday, March 29, 2014

In Which A 25-Mile Ride Features Snuggling Snakes

The world is winter brown, but there are a few tiny signs of fresh spring green. One of the photos I snapped during my mid-ride break. Yes, it's a plant, it is growing, it is green.

Ice on shady embankment of Cedar River. It's several feet thick.
Spring on Cedar Lake. There is ice halfway across, but much of the lake is open water now, reflecting a warm spring sky.

Spring! When a young man’s fancy turns to what apparently snakes may be thinking of, too.

But, let’s save the love, if love it was (maybe it was totally platonic and I’m misreading reptile behavior, or maybe the little snake though it could eat the big one?) for later.

Today, I graded all morning, and felt pretty brain dead by noon. At lunch, my wife discussed taking an afternoon walk. “I know you’ll want to go on a bike ride,” she said.

She is wise and she was right. I got Francis out and lubed and inflated (him, not me), and headed out by about 1:30 p.m. I could only ride until about 4—we planned to go to church at 4:30 tonight—so I wanted to get some quick miles in.

Looking out over railroad bridge that crosses the Cedar River from a fenced trail bridge.

I headed over to the Cedar River Trail via the Noelridge Park route, and turned south. And peddled and peddled. In about an hour and 15 minutes (the time I had allotted until I had to turn around) I rode 12 ½ miles. I thought 25 miles would be a nice number, so I stopped just after Highway 30 at the T intersection where the trail to Kirkwood diverges, intending that to be the turn-around point. I hopped off the bike to take a short break and walked over to an abandoned rail line which runs right next to the trail at this point, and snapped some photos.

A middle-aged mixed gender couple who had been riding from the other way had also stopped. “What are you seeing?” the man asked.

“Just a little green,” I said. “Signs of spring.”

“It’s about time!” the woman exclaimed.
Old rail line near trail.

Well, who can argue with that? The world is still largely in its winter brown, but I don’t think I was imagining a tinge of green on some grass, a swelling of pregnant maple bulbs, a shift in “things.” There was a caterpillar crawling across the trail. A bit of ice can still be seen beside the river, the but the river runs free and the eagles have departed the patches of open water that sustained them in winter—there is lots of water to fish in, now. Today still looked like winter, but felt like spring, and there were signs of the coming season.

I agreed with the woman, it’s about time. On my return ride, I snapped a few more photos, which are what illustrate this post.

But, time was running short and, after I passed by Cedar Lake, I decided I had no more time to snap photos. I must hurry home.

But then I spied something that stopped me.

It was a snake. The first snake of the season, which was somnolently sunning itself on the warm asphalt of the trail, was just off to my left.

Snakes alive! Who put these mother-loving snakes on a trail?
Well, whether I was short on time or not, I wasn’t going to pass up snapping an image of spring’s first serpent! I was a little worried about said snake, which was so still I was thinking maybe it had been run over (fortunately, not by me because I would have felt terrible at crushing the first reptile of the seasons). Anyway, as I paused to snap said snake's photo, it slowly lifted its head and slow-mo flicked its tongue at me in a totally ineffective threatening manner.

Just then, ,as if on cue, another, smaller snake burst from the cover of the grass across the trail, and rushed to the first snake. I thought there was either going to be a quick attack on the paparazzi, or snake-on-snake violence.

Hey pinkie! Why you taking his picture? I want my picture taken, too!

No. There ensued some rather unseemly snake snuggling. I’m not a studier of snakes, so I don’t know what it means, but I felt as if I should gently suggest that these two find a hole.

Well, there you have it. A 25-mile bike ride complete with, maybe, snake foreplay. I saw other bikers, dog walkers, runners and others out enjoying the trail, but I only saw two snuggling snakes. While I would have rather seen eagles, I have to admit it was a very nice ride.
OK you two. I know it's spring, but really.

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