Blog Archives

Close EnCOWnters (Pun intended)

Here are a few of my favorite things:

  • Animals
  • Riding my bike
  • Taking time to enjoy the awesome beauty of nature
  • Having a good story to tell

Here’s what I’m known for:

  • Having random weird stuff happen to me on a regular basis

Thankfully, that random weird stuff often involves animals that I encounter as I’m riding my bike while enjoying nature. Those events, in turn, generally make for a good story.

Take, for example, what happened Wednesday night as I neared the end of an otherwise uneventful 16-mile bike ride. I was zipping along a flat, straight stretch of road that runs parallel to a large cow pasture when something unusual happened.

I’ve ridden by that pasture hundreds of time, and the cows have never demonstrated the least bit of interest in me. Even when I’ve belted out Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes such as “Oklahoma”and “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin” they have remained unimpressed while they chewed their cud.

But not on Wednesday.

On Wednesday I didn’t even have to sing to grab their attention. In fact, I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. I was just peddling along when a big white cow with black spots started chasing me.

I’ve never seen a cow move that fast, and I wanted to know why.

And so, I stopped to ask.

But the cow didn’t provide any explanation as to why she felt the need to stalk me.

When I went up to the fence to question her, she didn’t udder (pun intended) a sound. Instead, she started licking me.

She licked my hands. She licked my stomach (or at least my shirt over my stomach). She licked my leg (or at least the pants over my leg). She licked my shoes then she licked my ankle (she really licked my ankle – not just my sock).

She even tried to chase away the other cows who, like me, had become curious as to her motives.

But, after I scolded her for not playing well with others, she allowed the other cows to join us at the fence.

I literally had a whole herd of cows at my fingertips when I finally realized I needed photos to document my whole “cow whisperer” experience.

Taking pictures on my phone with a herd of cows jostling around wasn’t exactly easy, but I got a few.

Not until I got home and was looking at those pictures did I realized two things.

First, not one photo captured the essence of the moment. Sure, some gave a glimpse into it, but none captured the actual experience. That’s because truly magical moments have nothing to do with what is seen by the eye and everything to do with what is felt by the heart and soul.

And second, I’ll probably never experience something like that again. No matter how many times I ride my bike by that field and no matter how loudly I sing to those cows, they will probably never come running again. (My singing might actually make them run in the other direction.) But even if they do come running, their actions won’t be nearly as remarkable. Remarkable moments, like remarkable people, can’t be duplicated. And, like people, the more unique they are, the more they should be treasured.

But here’s the thing: whether or not the cows and I now have some kind of undefinable relationship, they are now on my growing list of favorite things.

And anyone or anything that goes on that list will forever be part of not only a good story but of my life story. And that, in itself, is magical to me.

 

 

 

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 85

intersectionMost people know, I love to ride my bike on country roads. But since I live on the edge of the city limits, I’m forced to go through  busy intersections before I hit the open road.

Generally, I don’t pay much attention to the cars that go by except for when people I know honk or wave at me.

But when I was coming home the other day, I had to stop for a red light while vehicles exited from the interstate. Since I had nothing to do but wait, I watched the cars speed off the exit ramp and onto the road that runs near my house. As I saw their light turning yellow, I prepared to go through the intersection. But as my light turned green and the other light turned red, I observed the driver on the exit ramp who’d been caught by the red light. The gesture he made with his middle finger was an obvious sign he was upset.

Then he looked at me and tried to pretend he hadn’t made it. He smiled and waved, and as I rode through the intersection, I smiled and waved back.

I don’t really know the man other than for the times we’ve greeted each other at church on Sunday mornings. Because of that, he probably doesn’t know me either and therefore doesn’t know that I really don’t care that he flipped the bird at a traffic signal.

What I do know is that no one is perfect, but sharing the specifics of that secret with another person always makes me smile.

Day 85: Being Human

Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day 77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness    Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart  Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 34

My early morning bike rides are getting more difficult.

Taugustsunrisehe sun is rising later, which means I’m leaving in the dark.

The benefit of starting so early is that I get to watch the sunrise.

The downside is that I have to be more cautious of cars, deer and other hazards.

And then there’s the weather.

On Tuesday, I was caught in an unexpected rainstorm that not only left me soaked but also left me  questioning why I didn’t look at the radar. When I ride during the day, I ALWAYS check the radar.

fog2Yesterday morning, the fog that rolled in matched my general frustrations: I wanted to clearly see where I was going, but I just couldn’t.

Then I noticed something.

The fog was always just out of reach.

A tree hidden in the fog was completely clear when I  actually rode by it, and the drops of moisture on a spider web  made it more visible than normal.spiderfogcows

And then I realized that trying to get ahead of the fog is impossible, but  appreciating the beauty of the moment is essential.

I also realized that I don’t need to chase or escape the fog. Instead, I need to accept the unknown.

Getting such clear insight always makes me smile.

Day 34: Accepting the Fog  Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory

Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids

Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity

Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 26

cows2My friends think I ride  my bike for exercise, which is partly true.

My family thinks I ride my bike to get away from them, which is also partly true.

But I also ride my bike to observe what I either don’t see or can’t enjoy when I’m rushing by in my car.

I love the calm of the deer who raise their heads in curiosity and watch me ride by them. I’m fascinated by the rabbits that stand completely still in hopes that they won’t be seen. And I am amused by the skunks that amble through the weeds in an almost charming manner.

But most of all, I adore my ongoing relationship with the sheep and cows that graze in fields along the country roads.sheep

They almost always respond to my greetings, which are usually delivered as I sing off-key at the top of my lungs.

And since they never seem to mind my lack of musical ability, they always make me smile.

Day 26:  Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24: Hibiscus    Day 23:  The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney 

Day 21: Puppy Love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory

Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids

Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity

Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 3

hillAs a child, I was never been much of a risk taker.

For years, I didn’t jump off the high dive even though I knew how to swim. I didn’t skip school for fear of being caught. And always managed to avoid the roller coaster that went upside down.

But when I rode my bike, I was fearless. I could ride without my hands on the handlebars and believe I was the most courageous girl in the world. And when I rode down a steep hill with no brakes, I felt like nothing would ever stop me again.

I am a little more cautious these days, but I still love riding my bike down steep hills. But my joy doesn’t come from my ability to let go and be a little reckless. It comes from the fact that every steep hill I go down is one that I just struggled going up.

As in life, the tough times help us appreciate the easier ones, and realizing that always makes me smile.

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill

Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

The Way I Choose to Ride My Bike

I’ve been monitoring the weather all week in hopes that both the temperature and the wind would cooperate so I could actually get out on my bike.

They did and I did.

In the last few months of cold weather, I’ve only been out on my bike four times. Yes, I’ve actually kept track. And, while I most definitely have a passion for riding my bike, I’m not sure which I enjoy more: the actual riding or the challenges that come with it.

Not everyone gets this. I’ve discovered that a lot of people who are bike riding enthusiasts simply like leisurely rides so they can enjoy a pretty day or the beauty of the world around them. Some people even prefer to stay on flat land as much as possible.  

Not me. I love hills.

I can’t stand taking the easy route. It’s just not as interesting, exciting or challenging.

And, to be honest, I don’t really take the easy route when it comes to other parts of my life either.  I guess how a person rides (or even doesn’t ride) a bike says a lot about how they live their life.

The thought first struck me years ago as I was struggling up an extremely steep hill. “I could have chosen an easier route,” I thought. “But if I did, I wouldn’t feel as strong at the top.”

Those hills are just like life’s challenges. None of us has a perfect life and all of us have our uphill climbs.  But we also have choices as to how we face them.

We can either accept that challenges will be there and choose to tackle them head on, knowing that eventually things will get easier and we can enjoy the downhill glide, or we can try to avoid them and never have the opportunity for growth.

There are obvious benefits to choosing the easy route. There’s very little stress. There’s very little risk. And, you can focus on your surroundings and enjoy them. Granted, even when you take the easy road, there are always bumps and you’re always going to face a few hills. But, if you haven’t been practicing for those hills, building up your endurance, they are even harder to face when you are forced to go up them.

As I struggle to go up hill, no matter how much I want to quit, no matter how much my lungs feel like they are going to burst and no matter how my legs ache, I don’t let myself stop or turn around. I convince myself I will make it to the top, because, every time I do?  I not only build my strength, I also build my confidence.

Besides, there is something to be said for making it to the top of a particularly steep climb with your pulse racing, your heart pumping and your nerves on edge. Not only do you have the sense of pride and accomplishment, but you know that, at least for the moment, you face a glorious, joyful, breathtaking dive downhill along with an opportunity to simply appreciate the moment. And, at least for me, I feel like I’ve earned the right to sit back, breathe deep, admire, the scenery, and appreciate a much deserved “easy ride.”

And the next time I face a hill, whether by choice or by circumstance, I don’t have any doubt that I can conquer it. Just like those uphill battles I face in life.