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Friday, July 15, 2011

Biking In Barneveld - Best Anywhere

We have been on our bicycles this week - not long trips but delightful sojourns of twenty or so miles. Once the temperatures dropped below the mid 80’s we just had to get up and go.
Though we’ve biked some of the world’s most famous scenic routes, we find the biking in and around Barneveld uniquely satisfying.   Yesterday’s ride, for example...
We pedaled out the driveway at just about 9AM; the Canada Geese watched as we headed out. They seemed pleased that they’d now be able to graze (and, ahem, fertilize) our lawn without disruption for awhile.  Sigh.
The dirt road felt good beneath the tires as our muscles got the message that they’d need to wake up and work.  Crossing the bridge over the West Canada, we noted the flow of water at the spillway and felt a sense of camaraderie with the first fisherfolk of the day as they waded into the stream. 
It was almost chilly as we biked through the village of Trenton Falls and passed Trenton Meadow just as the sun just began to spread across the grove and grasses, sparkling the remaining dewdrops and lifting a light morning mist.
Our breath came in happy puffs as we rode up the rise and through the railroad tunnel (we have to say “beep” in there). Then a sweet swing past Evergreen and Sugarbush and we floated down to route 12/28. Imagine! Not a car in sight, so we were able to bike across without stopping. That took us into and through the town of Barneveld, the historic homes and old stores breathing out their story without a trace of pretense. 
And then, as if passing through a scrim, we are away down Steuben Valley Road!  Field after field, rolling into wooded hills behind. Cows grazing, twitching tails and gathering beneath the leafiest trees in preparation for higher sun to come. Farmhouses and gorgeous barns passing us one after the other. In the gentle rhythm of biking we have time to enjoy the touches each family has added with flowerbeds, stone walls and places to rest in the shade.
The scents tell us the farmers have been at work.  The smell of fresh mown hay and, yes, the spreader has left its perfume - a heady aroma that is amazingly sweet despite itself.
There are hills to climb, with cornflowers, elderberries and gateway openings for the tractors and wagons. There are tractors humming their motored tune in the fields - today they are collecting round bales.
And there are the downhills! We fly with the hawk above us as we swoop down and around gentle bends. This makes the climbs more than worthwhile.  
We are headed back to our house. It has been a couple of hours. We’ve seen, maybe six cars in all. We have had the Kuyahoora Valley country to ourselves -- and what a country it is!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fly Fishing - True Atonement

On any given day in the West Canada Creek you'll find flyfishers contentedly working the stream a respectful, collegial distance apart. 
We hear from friends who don't flyfish that they can't imagine what moves people to do this.  We think it has to do with "at-one-ment" and we hope others will write in with their own thoughts.
Flyfishing has a unique way of putting a person "At One" with Life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To begin with, we are largely made of water; and standing in it just feels right, the cool caress of the current soothes even "the savage breast" and we settle into the experience, into the very moment.
Then there's the necessary full attention that engrosses a flyfisher completely in many ways... What insects are flying, floating, rising?  What's the condition of the stream - its temperature, current? What effect is the day itself having on the trout? How and where are they feeding, protecting themselves, preserving energy?
And always the rapt endeavor to engage 'the big one' in tender battle. There's joy in the moment of "winning" and gently looking our conquest in the eye as we release it back to its home. There's even joy in the "dan it" moment when we realize that the fish has won, slipped the hook and shimmered away.
There will be other times for both the flyfisher and the fish. And, in all of these times, a flyfisher will be in complete atonement.