Monday, July 12, 2010

Stopping by the park on a cooler evening

As you may have heard, it's been hot.  Really, really, disgustingly hot.  Just as many people will look out on a snowy day and think, "no way I'm bicycling in that kind of weather," I see 90-degree temperatures in my 10-day forecast and die a little on the inside.  (To be honest, my tolerance for heat is even lower than this.  I get anxious as soon as numbers beginning with 8 start to show up.)  Among other things, this has negatively affected my progress on Part 3 of the Let's Go Ride a Bike Summer Games.  "Covering new territory" has been pretty low on my list of Things That Seem Appealing When I'm Already So Effing Sweaty.  I've still been riding to get places I need to go, since it is better than walking in the heat, but my extracurricular activities have been heavily curtailed as I retreat to an underpants-and-popsicles existence. 

Coming to my bicycle after work today, though, it was one of those instances when you put your feet on the pedals, and it just feels so good.  I didn't have the most time to detour, but I did take a long-er way home.  There's a left turn about halfway through my regular route that is the perfect off-ramp for nights when I decide on the spur of the moment that I'm not ready to go home yet and just want to toodle around a bit.  Tucked among the quiet side streets is a small gated park (which happens to be in Lovely territory) that I've walked by a million times but never entered.  I was about to glide by again when it occurred to me that it was sort of ridiculous that I'd never gone in, especially since I lived directly across the street from it for a year.  So we went.

The sign on the gate said No Bicycles; but I wasn't planning on riding, and Frida promised to be on her best behavior.  The tall trees always made the park seem dark and secretive when I would pass by.  It was sunny today, but inside, it still felt shadowy and hidden away from the rest of the neighborhood.  I know a lot of people take their dogs through, but today it was empty, and very, very quiet.
Frida blends right in.

Actually, even though I'd never entered the park before today, it's the setting of one of my favorite Cambridge moments:  The year I was living across the street was my first year of architecture school-- a year notorious for keeping students in studio almost nonstop, at least partially so they can be broken down into itsy bitsy architecture pieces that will theoretically be molded into great big architecture geniuses by the end of their training (I remain unconvinced by this methodology).  I was walking home one night/morning in the spring on one of those nights where you first notice that the air doesn't feel so cold and you don't have to walk fast anymore.  It was probably around 4:30 or 5, and as I made my way, barely awake, through this neighborhood of enormous, dark, silent houses, I found myself suddenly surrounded by birdsong.  It was as if I had stepped into a bubble that was full of nothing but singing birds, with no other noises to interfere, and it was so incredibly loud that the sound almost started to feel tangible.  Every minute of sleep I got that year was precious and jealously guarded, but I had to stop.  I just stood in the middle of the street, listening and feeling like I was in a dream.  I'd never heard anything like it, and no matter how many times I passed by the same spot at the same hour, I never heard it again.  I like to imagine now that every one of those trees in the park was covered, branch by branch, with birds, and they'd all just woken up at the same moment and were really excited about it.

No birds today, though.  Just me and Frida in the park.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I get reverse seasonal depression and lose all motivation and energy with the temp above 85, so I understand your dilemma :)

Mmm, the bird story sounds wonderful.

It's been frigging hot here too, up until the last couple days, so I chose a day I had to go out of my way anyway for my taking the long way home post :) Thankfully it's cooled down a little though, and I'm starting to actually enjoy the summer. I feel like I can get out and explore a new part of town if it's less than 80 out :)

I love the parks in Portland, and that one in Cambridge looks lovely. Happy Tuesday!

Velouria said...

I love that park and used to walk through it as a shortcut from my house to Harvard Sq before I started cycling. Sadly it is flooded now -again!- and they are desperately trying to bring it back into visit-able shape. In our neighborhood we hear insanely loud bird song around the same time, and it's always a sign for me that I've stayed up too late! Your story sounds beautiful though.

Anonymous said...


I love the last shot of you and Frida's shadows!!!

I also hate the heat and when it gets around +25/77F unless there is a breeze I stay indoors. I have never handled heat well and about died living in Southern Georgia for 5.5 years. I totally bloom in winter:) even if its -30C/22F

Traci said...

I love that shadow shot also :)

I feel your pain with the heat - I don't enjoy riding at all when it's in the 90's and above, especially with the high humidity we have. It was great over the 4th of July holiday and we had a respite with temps in *only* the mid 80's - practically felt like winter :)

Dottie said...

I'm not crazy about the 90 degree temps, either. The blazing sun is what really gets me (and my pale, sensitive skin). I swear it seems Chicago is either freezing or sweltering.

Glad you were able to enjoy the long way home. The park looks beautiful, made even more so by Frida :)

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