HONK IF YOU'RE A
29 September 2002
With all of the biking Cindy and I have done, and my now taking the bike on errands
around town, and even to work occasionally, I haven't done the ol' bike path home route
from the club in a couple of weeks. For one thing, I take "URL" to the club and
it feels so much heavier than The Blue Angel.
But today I decided I'd go back on the bike path and take the long way home. For one
thing, we finally seem to be having "fall" weather. The triple digit temps have
finally dropped, quickly, down into a high of low to mid 80s, which seems almost cool
to me these days. The winds have picked up and there is a cloud cover, so I even put on my
warm jacket to bike up to the club (my warm jacket which is now waaaaay too big, I
hasten to add!)
I decided to make it a "toodle," as Haggie
calls slower rides. I pedal my little legs off trying to keep up with Cindy on our
pre-dawn rides and manage to average 12-13 mph, with occasional 15 mph sprints, on a
pretty steady basis. I remember when it was a struggle to keep it at 10 mph, so I've
improved on that score too.
These days 10 mph is a saunter and today I even allowed myself to go slower to enjoy
The first thing I noticed was the smell. I don't know if there had been
enthusiastic sprinklers, or heavy fog or perhaps a light drizzle through the night, but
the smell of fall rain was in the air. A smell I have not enjoyed since spring morphed
into a triple-digit summer. There is something wonderfully fresh about the smell of wet
grass combined with wet cement lifted to your nose by a cool breeze as you zip along.
(editorial comment: entirely too much purple prose!)
I had been late leaving for the club, so by the time I finished my workout, I was about
15 minutes later than usual when I left and the normally empty bike/foot path was alive
with dog walkers. There were poop scoopers, and obedience trainers, and companions out
walking their dogs together. There were labs and shepherds and poofy fou-fou dogs. There
were working dogs coming back from romping in the ditch and jogging dogs resolutely
keeping pace with their owners. There was even a bike-companion dog.
Who knew that 15 minutes could make such a difference in the population of the bike
As I passed along the back section of the greenbelt, I was suddenly buzzed by a
formation of Canada geese, making a perfect V, flying low overhead and honking loudly.
Behind them was another V and behind that yet another V. I actually stopped the bike to
watch them pass. It was like watching fighter planes take off from an airstrip. (but they
were going north...what kind of stupid geese are these? Aren't they supposed to be
Has anyone notice the increase in Canada geese in recent years? (I have been told that
"Canadian geese" which most people call them is wrong...their proper name is
"Canada geese"...and I certainly wouldn't want to offend any Canadians, would I,
I think the first time I became aware of Canada geese was a brilliant PBS special, the
name of which I have forgotten (though I'm sure someone will write and remind me). The
closing scenes of that special showed the geese flying in slow motion and stands out in my
mind still today as one of the most beautiful bits of nature photography I've ever seen.
Then there was, of course, Fly Away Home, the story of a young girl
raising a flock of orphaned Canada geese. A real feel-good kinda movie.
The first time I saw Canada geese live, I thought I was witnessing something very
special--the geese stopping by on their way south--wherever it is that they go--for the
But it is only in the last five years or so that I began to notice that everywhere you
go there are Canada geese. They have taken over all sorts of lakes and lagoons. There are
several families of Canada geese in the little pond which I pass on the bike path. There
are Canada geese in the lagoon where I have gone to walk from time to time. There are
Canada geese all over the lawns in the park in Alameda through which we have ridden bikes
on our way to the Naval Air base.
They're beautiful, regal looking birds, but nasty dispositioned things. Our most
memorable encounter with Canada geese was in the Boston commons, where they had taken over
one section of the park. There were signs everywhere warning you to walk softly because
the geese were known to attack without provocation.
But they're still beautiful when they sail overhead in perfect formation...headed in
the wrong direction.