Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring O'Clock

The Bike Obscured
Did you know that Daylight Saving Time begins on different dates in different parts of the world? In the US, the clocks went forward an hour on the 9th of March this year. In Ireland and the UK this happened on the 30th of March. With the timing of my recent visit back to Boston, I got to experience both. 

It felt odd to have the clocks go forward twice. But it also seemed fitting. So reluctant and fitful was Spring's progress that it begged for a second chance, a restart. And a restart it got. You know how some years, after a watery March bleakness there is suddenly this one day when you go outside and are shell shocked by the explosion of green? 

Spring in the Roe Valley
The day the clocks went forward, this happened. And I found myself on the bike, tripping out of my mind at the sight of this colour burst and its accompanying scents. 

Starting off with one of my usual winter flat routes, I found it hardly recognisable. Where flooded brown fields used to be I now flew past carpets of buttercups and swathes of whin hedgerows, past clusters of fledgling fruit tree blossoms and pastures of freshly cut grass dotted with daisies. At first my eyes, unused to such splendor, kept averting defensively, reluctant to accept such a feast after a months-long famine. "Don't take it in all at once after a winter of colour-starvation. You'll make yourself sick!" 

But I don't care, I want to eat it all up. I let my eyes open wide, and I stare, I take it all in - already knowing that these images will flash and replay in my mind as I try to get to sleep later that night, after a day shortened by the time change.

Yellow, Red, Blue and Green
A gentle 15mph crosswind pushes at my shoulder playfully, as if to show how friendly and benign it is. As if to say, "Remember all those times this winter I tried to knock you off the bike with 40mph gusts? That's all in the past now. I am a changed wind, honest!"

Do I believe him and head for the hills for the first time since December? I go for it. The backroads that twist their way up and down the Roe Valley look rejuvenated since the last time I'd seen them, like a friend after returning from holiday - fresh-faced and healthy, glowing in their breezy jewel-tone resort attire. 

Amidst the greenery and the sunshine and the road's seductive undulations I get lost in the moment, and that moment turns into hours. 

Shadow Over Buttercups
Finally turning up the farm lane toward home with the waning still-warm sun at my back, I inhale the dizzying scent of cut grass one more time. And then I wave an eager good-bye to that grim, wind-battered, teary-eyed ordeal known as Winter Cycling. It took two clock changes. But spring has gotten a reboot, and so have I. 

23 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the correct use of "Daylight Saving Time!"

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  2. We wok up this morning to 3 inches of snow, with more to come. Jealous

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    1. Perhaps a 3rd clock change is in order!

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  3. You have a wonderful gift for writing, and photography.

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  4. NOT FAIR!
    Here in the US Southwest, the dry, cool, brown winter is turning to dry, cool, brown and windy spring. No springtime carpet of delicate, fragrant, green sproutings, high desert stubble is is tough, dry & brown.
    Unfair!
    Great photos & blog though -

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    1. Well, it's not all bad in the US SW. Here in Albuquerque the ornamental trees are just over their peak bloom period and daytime temperatures are in the 60s, and the cottonwoods along central green strip along the Rio Grande (where I live) will soon begin to leaf; great dirt road biking.

      At the moment the winds don't picking up until later in the afternoon. But they will come, oh yes, they will come: "Winds out of the west at 25, gusts to 39". And the pollen.

      Riding fixed presents particular challenges with the strong winds, but it's still fun with the appropriate mental and physical adjustments.

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    2. Are the winds specific to a particular season over there, or are they year round?

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    3. I can't speak of the rest of the SW, but Albuquerque and the other parts of NM that I know are more often windy, and with stronger winds throughout the year than, say, Georgia, another state I've lived in. But winds are especially strong during, roughly, the spring -- which, for wind, can mean from the end of February well into the summer, though late March and April are usually the worst. The upside of the city's expansion, particularly on the westside (ie, west of the Rio Grande) where I live, is that there is less open land to provide the dust for the huge spring dust storms, which are noticeably less common and less widespread now than when I moved here 25 years ago.

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    4. Dust storms… Another surprise here, is that apparently this time of the year sand from Africa will sometimes make its way over reducing visibility.

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  5. Glad of your reboot. Spring is a time of change, beauty and rebirth of life.

    Enjoy your pathway. For me, I still in a hurry to get somewhere, and cannot psychologically understand that there is no destination.

    I willl keep reading your blog, and perhaps someday will understand.

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    1. Ultimately we're all headed toward the same destination, if you follow my meaning. Not sure whether it's a sign of increasing immaturity or maturity on my end, but I'm probably less in a hurry to get there now than I was 10 years ago.

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    2. It’s a ‘standpoint’ thing, I think. If you ever wash dishes by hand, don’t wash them because they are dirty. Wash them because you like clean dishes. It might sound frivolous, but it changes everything. (This is a twist on a famous quote from Thich Nhat Hanh). You can apply it to many situations.

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    3. Hmm I've been doing it wrong : (
      I wash dishes by hand, but only when they're dirty. Still so much to learn in this thing we call life!

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  6. I'm not sure I'm ready to forgive the wind just yet. Saturdays ride was a grind into the wind especially between Portstewart & Portrush and on down the coast road. With the wind coming off the sea it's all too happy to bully the first person it meets.

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  7. And here on the supposedly sunny central California coast, I have to put the mudguards back on. ;)

    (Seems like it rains more here than it did in Seattle, honestly.)
    Happy Spring!

    Are there any flowers or plants that really seem to evoke the area, besides heather?
    Here, it's vast swaths of tiny periwinkle forget-me-nots.

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    1. From this time of the year till early May it is mostly whin (gorse) bushes, and immediately after that rapeseed. Both are a very bright yellow which has the nice effect of making the landscape look sunny even when it isn't.

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  8. I wash my dishes when they're dirty, because mouse.
    After a long battle, I have emerged victorious.
    Now ensconced in a disused brick wall
    during a restarted winter
    The peanut butter amuse bouche beckons

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  9. Speaking of the southwest USA, doesn't Arizona skip the whole DST thing?

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    1. Wow, did't know that until just now.

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  10. Meanwhile here in Australia, green arrives from a different direction as the autumn rains prompt new growth in the bleached grey-blonde summer landscape. No more weeks of 40ºc+ days (104ºF for Americans). Goodbye mosquitos, hello mice, rain-capes and Glühwein. Incidentally, Australians have many odd notions about daylight savings and end up with states running on different times in the same timezone.

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  11. Very beautiful morning to you and all the readers!

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  12. Theres an old Irish saying "ner cast a clout till May be out" meaning , don't discard one's winter cloths till June.
    I enjoyed my Sunday 40 mile spin ,but remained true to the wisdom of ages. Lovely to see the Daffs and Primroses peeping out. Ride on <Summers on the way !

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    1. I sometimes wore my winter clothes in July and August last year as well!

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