Bike lanes clear of snow enable me to resume the ride to work and a more portable camera permits a few images of the dense fog we’ve experienced this week in Idaho’s Treasure Valley.
I have watched windstorms and beavers take these trees year-by-year since I started bicycling to work in 1998, brown belt replacing greenbelt (only better in karate). Boise’s namesake trees,¹ these cottonwoods, are weakened by irrigation that diverts water they need to properly reproduce.² Groups like the Boise River Enhancement Network³ are working to improve the situation.
I enjoy in these bicycle rides the same experiences I have on a motorcycle trip — nature’s spectacles punctuated by small dangers (precipice or inattentive driver), each demanding attention, each promoting a little perspective. I’ve also learned that, in my old age, I need something like bicycling to stay fit enough to handle the motorcycle. It’s a win-win.
It took a year and some inspiration from my co-worker Dennis before I tried biking to the new job in Meridian. Like other cities sprawled across the plain, its downtown has been reduced to an historic footnote, superseded by a dozen homogenous strip malls. It’s the best way to ride to avoid traffic.
During the winter months, it’s about dark by the time I head home. Sidling along stopped cars that rarely signal their intentions can be harrowing so I hope the work at Executive and Five Mile Road is to add the missing eastbound bike lane. The bicycling facilities are great the whole thirteen miles¹ save for a couple places like this.
The well secured squat buildings and greenhouses with a large on-site diesel generator are a bit of off-the-beaten-path intrigue. I prefer to imagine their purpose (growing pod people, I think) rather than know their real function.
Idaho Camera marks the transition between bike lane and bike path and, for me, between having money and having gadgets.
“Settlers Irrigation District began as the Settlers Ditch Company on October 30th, 1884, and now serves thousands of water users in a large part of western Ada County. The original purpose for the construction of the Settlers canal was to bring irrigation to the prairie and sage brush lands on the south side of the Boise River to entice settlers into the area.”¹
Invisible overhead fluttering created a moment of suspense before I could make out the geese gliding to a water landing. Lights from the Boise Fire Department’s training center cast a warm glow, as if from an actual fire, through bare cottonwood branches bordering the river, while downtown lights directly ahead were utterly engulfed.
The subtle hues of different lights are amplified and made tangible in the heavy fog like old memories made vivid in a photo.
Physical remnants of impossible images that held us transfixed before our TVs, of smoke billowing from twin towers, have now been placed in every state — tortured iron mounted in shining marble or stainless steel, dead among the living. It is a curious thing to pass each day.
Idaho’s 9/11 memorial is in Riverside Park near the the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. The design by Amber Conger¹ is meant to evoke “brave souls all connected like ripples in a pond.”²
Like most nights, I overtook a young lady jogging through the darkness. My bright light cutting ahead made unnecessary, I think, my usual call, “on your left,” so I passed silently while wondering about her safety.
starPhoto from previous, clearer night
In summer months there is sometimes a group that acts out medieval battle scenes on the Julia Davis Park grass. Other times I see giraffes. On a cold winter night, though, I’m accompanied only by my own breathing and the sound of rolling wheels.
Riding in a dark fog had the feeling of riding in fresh morning snow,¹ a kind of magical solitude. I am fortunate.