Category Archives: Spring

Just one of the reasons I choose to ride a bike…

I’ve mentioned in previous posts but not in quite a while that one of the things I really like about riding a bike is that I am an active part of the environment around me, that I am out in the elements. But even more than that, when I’m on a bike I see things that I really do not think would be possible if I were in a car. Today was a good example, but I’m getting ahead of myself as I sometimes do. I first have to preface this brief story by saying that being a cyclist (and I know that I am not the only one thinking in these terms) makes me keenly aware of the weather before I leave my house. The past two days, for example, have been really weird weather…autumnal-like temperatures (I have my wood stove burning as I type these words) and a near constant fluctuation of rain (sometimes light and other times crazy downpours), blinding hail, and sun. So as I was about to leave the house earlier this evening I see that it is hailing and raining at the same time, so I waited about 10 minutes and it stopped. Then, as I began my short ride to the health club, the sun came out and the pavement beneath me began to steam (from the cold hail, I suppose). Everything was covered in a light steam about six inches deep. At one point when I stopped for a traffic light and put my foot down fog-like steam swirled around my foot and tires. It was like being on a movie set (unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on me for fear of it getting wet). When I came out of the health club an hour later I could see that I must’ve just missed another hail/rain storm (my bike and the ground were covered in tiny pellets). But now the sun was shining brightly and everything had small droplets attached to it. When I arrived home I snapped a few photos in my front yard and a neighbor’s; it was as if things were illuminated. From now on when someone asks me why I choose to ride a bike I think I’ll answer simply, “So I can see things.” 

Urban Simplicity.

Plus de Fleurs (or…nature blows me away)

Okay, so yes, I realize that I sometimes get carried away with photos of flowers. But I can’t help myself…their incredible and natural beauty blows me away (especially when looked upon through a camera lens or close up). All of these flowers are growing in my next door neighbor’s front yard (thanks Melissa!). And I’m pretty sure that other neighbors on the street–by now–know me enough and are not alarmed at seeing me crouched down in the yard next door with my camera. At any rate, after a busy and hot day in the kitchen, coming home and shooting these photos was like therapy for me. I hope you enjoy them as well. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Crocuses and Lillies…evidence of spring

Despite the cold temps, these plant still manage to push through the damp soil and reach for the sun. Amazing isn’t it? In a few month’s time the crocuses will be a memory and the tiger lillies (two below) will all but have taken over my garden.

Urban Simplicity.

Things I Saw While Riding My Bike Today (a photo essay)

Firstly I have to say a couple things. Mainly an apology (if these pictures bore you). This is the most photos I’ve posted at one time. But sometimes I simply cannot help myself. I am proud of my beautiful city and it’s long history. Yes, I realize–to my friends “across the pond” who are reading this–by some standards Buffalo is not an old city, but in North America it is. Anyhow, it was such a beautiful spring morning (crisp and not a cloud in the sky) that I felt like taking a bike ride (big surprise, right?). So I packed a couple cameras, lenses, and a tripod on my bike and rode through a few of our cities oldest and original neighborhoods…the Cobblestone District, the Old First Ward, and the area around the Grain Elevators and the Buffalo River. While the First Ward is a residential area, the others are not…especially around the grain elevators. And when I went there this morning it was–not surprisingly–devoid of people; the crumbling buildings in the Cobblestone District was the same. And it felt incredibly beautiful to me…big hulking grain elevators with the sound of nature all around me. There were, for example, wild geese all over the place. It’s as if the area has regressed into an unofficial nature preserve without the help of humans. The abandoned grain elevators and buildings in the Cobblestone District were like architectural ghosts…not really living but not ready to make the transition to the other side. They themselves–without words–have a story to tell about the Queen City. I shot nearly a hundred photos this morning, and here’s a few I thought I’d share.

Urban Simplicity.

A Recipe for Spring (whether it feels like spring or not)

So yes it is officially spring, but no–like much of the country–it does not feel like it. Nonetheless, I’m cooking as if it is. This is a really simple and really delicious recipe for stove-top braised asparagus. It’s really just a variation of any of my aglio e olio recipes…but with a couple more steps. But it is still exceedingly simple and really delicious (did I mention that this was delicious?). Being Good Friday, I ate the asparagus with fish meatballs (here’s the recipe). The asparagus was done before the meatballs and pasta were cooked and I ate most of it before I sat down for dinner. Anyhow, here’s how to make it.

Stove-Top Braised Asparagus with Olive Oil, Lemon, Garlic, and Hot pepper
Serves four
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of their fibrous ends
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 lemon, juiced
Heat the oil in a large skillet then add the asparagus. Sprinkle the garlic, hot pepper, and salt on and around the asparagus. Gently shake the pan, and using tongs, turn the asparagus in the pan. Add a few tablespoons water to the pan, then lower the heat and place a lid on it for a couple minutes. Remove the lid and add the lemon juice to the pan, gently turning the asparagus. Transfer the asparagus to a clean plate and pour the oil and lemon over it, along with the garlic and hot pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#466)…and a very brief comment

On the bike…boxes of food (quiche, dinner rolls, muffins, etc.) on it’s way to a local food pantry.

So okay, I generally love the snow, I really do. But (always a but), this is going on a bit too long this year. If you are reading this from the same area of the world in which I reside (the northeastern US) you likely remember last winter were it–for all intense purposes–failed to snow the entire winter. Now this winter just keeps going. Notice the white diagonal streaks in the photo…those are tiny sharp little hail balls (really tough on the face and eyes while riding), which of course was the precursor to a brief lake effect snow. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it (I like the challenge of riding in it; the sense of accomplishment of using my own power to get myself and other stuff from point A to point B). It’ll be summer be for we know it…

Urban Simplicity.

A View from My Handlebars

It was–and still is–a beautiful spring day as I rode to work earlier this morning. And as the weather gets more pleasant I am seeing more and more people on bikes (not all are crazy enough to ride year round). On my short commute there was one cyclist in front of me (pictured) and two behind me…it’s nice not being a lone cyclist on an early morning ride.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Just a Test…

Well, first of all, while I’m not entirely car-free yet, I don’t specifically have one to drive. What I mean by this is that my truck is officially off the road (no longer legal as the inspection has not been renewed) and is sitting in the driveway of my son’s mom’s house, but I still own it. It’s also officially for sale. If you want to see it or it’s description, here’s the sale page.

Interestingly, while I was getting information together in order to sell it I noticed that since I purchased it about 3 years ago I only drove it about 8000 miles (2666 miles a year)…according to the US Department of Transportation at this page, the “average male” in my age group drives about 18,858 miles a year…I’ve never been one to be average.

But with that said…

Today, being Monday, is one of the two days a week I would move the truck from one side of the street to the other lest I receive a parking ticket. And today it was also raining…hard. I wanted to go to the health club–which I did–but I have to be honest in that if the truck was there and I had to get in it anyhow I likely would have driven to the health club. But it wasn’t there. And I still went. And I didn’t melt.

This is just a test.

Urban Simplicity.

Five More Photos of Spring

These photos were taken over the past couple weeks…definitely not the last couple days. The reason I say this is the past couple days we have been experiencing the outer edges and remnants of a Nor’easter that has really pummeled much of the east coast. We (Western New York) were lucky in that we’ve only experience cold, rain, sleet, and snow…but it’s the dreariness that gets me; cold, wet, and dark for days at a time. Anyhow, these photos were obviously taken during sunnier times–and they’ll come again, likely sooner than later–but for now I think they are nice to look at, and I thought I’d share them.

Urban Simplicity.

A Cold, Wet Day and Evening..good for practice

Today–as the title of this post stated–was cold and wet. Not the dangerous frigid cold you get in mid-winter, but that bone-chilling wet-cold that can only come in the spring. And it’s been sort of snowing and raining for the better part of the day. Anyhow, I mentioned in a previous post how dismayed I have been at the continual money pit of car ownership (and that my pickup has to be repaired before it passes inspection by the end of the month), and that I have been considering finally selling the truck and going car-free…at least as a test run. Interestingly, in my mind I already am car-free…well today was a test. Sure riding a bike is fun when it’s nice out…but it’s not always nice out. Rain is my least favorite element to ride in. But still I rode my bike in the snow/rain the short distance to-and-from work today, and this evening I wanted to go to the health club and by this time it was coming down pretty hard. While my truck is still “legal,” it’s really not safe until it gets repaired. So I had two choices: I could stay home or I could ride in the rain. I chose the latter, and you know what…I didn’t melt. But I have to admit that the steam room at the health club felt extra good today, as does the heat from the wood stove as I type these words. Small steps, that’s how it’s done.

Urban Simplicity.

Good Friday Moon

The moon is amazing tonight. I was out on my bike and couldn’t take my eyes off it as I pedaled and coasted. The above image I took from my backyard (not bad for a point-and-shoot camera), and the below image is the Liberty Building with a low lying moon to its right. And if you’ve ever wondered about why the date of Easter changes each year it is because of the moon cycle. Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (sounds sort of Pagan to me). If you want to learn more follow some of these links. And it’s interesting–I think–that in the Christian calendar, tonight being a night of darkness it is also a night of such immense light; literally and metaphorically. It’s as if there is a large nightlight showing outside illuminating the earth. While I consider myself a practicing Christian, I also believe that all major religions walk a similar path. That being said, I also consider nearly everything in the Bible a metaphor–to help each of us to discover our own inner truth–and right now I cannot think of a more direct physical metaphor than that incredible moon shining in the darkness like a beacon of hope and newness.

Urban Simplicity.