Year’s End and Biting Off the Polar Bear’s Head…

cookie-20161224_220632Sorry for not producing much content for December. It was a busy month with a few lows and one big freakin’ high point, which I’ll post and discuss during the spring of next year. All the same, Christmas hasn’t been as fun as I would have preferred for quite some time, maybe by eight years – more or less. But I managed to spend time with my friend’s dog, Ellie, and enjoy some fairly epic Christmas cookies. Namely this polar bear cookie, which was about the size of my hand or larger; I bit the head off. Empowering.

I’ve gotten more than a thousand views this year – a first time! Though I’m sure that’s not a big deal for some WordPressers, ya still gotta appreciate the little joys. I’ve always wondered who had read my postings in Russia, Vietnam, Argentina, and Brazil. Whoever you are – thanks! I truly am grateful for it. Feel free to write back with comments or suggestions, if you wish.

I have a few New Years Eve parties to attend tonight. Some with profoundly wonderful friends and others full of strangers; all the same, I embrace the chaos of it. Small talk, long talk, taking time to listen, maybe sip a gin & tonic while understanding the human mystery; it’s all kinda fun. It’s just as much a part of my education as any writing class.

I’ll post other content next month. For 2017, I hope each of you find some degree of fulfillment, perhaps the opportunity to follow your inner bliss, as mythologist Joseph Campbell discussed so often, so long ago.

Take care, and bite the head off a polar bear.

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Moonshine, a Layperson’s Review: Midnight Moon, Strawberry Edition

20161023_215214With the end of the year just around the corner, I figured it was only fair to provide one last moonshine review before the holiday season. This time we’re revisiting the good folks at Midnight Moon, affiliated with the Piedmont Distillers in Madison, North Carolina. The first time I tried their hooch was in April 2014; I had polished off a jar of the Midnight Moon Cherry Moonshine. It reminded me of my grandma, childhood, and cough syrup (the best kind, anyway). At the bottom of my jar was a flavor explosion in the form of booze-pickled cherries. A nice treat in every sippin’ glass.

Speed the clock forward a couple of years later and I found myself in the same liquor store, in Takoma Park, Maryland. This time, I was fascinated by a jar of Midnight Moon Strawberry flavor. Being a guy who’ll try most things once I decided to purchase this sweet treat.

My approach to drinking Midnight Moon entails placing the jar in the freezer and letting it get super cold before taking my first sip. I turned the lid and heard the requisite “pop” of the jar’s vacuum being released and the tearing of the paper seal. Although the strawberry moonshine was just as red as the cherry variety, the smell was completely different. It literally smelled like strawberry preserves or jam! And as with the Midnight Moon Cherry Moonshine, I also found soaked fruit floating in the jar: thick, booze-filled, strawberries!20161022_223523

I poured myself a glass and sipped – slowly. I was reminded of jam on toast, but this just isn’t the jam we all knew at age eight. No ma’am. This jam was taken to Las Vegas, given 40 shots of liquor, a tattoo, and a huge stack of chips for the blackjack table. And don’t even get me started on the strawberries. They’re to be fear and cherished with ever bite. Powerful, intense, deserving of respect. Like the lady down at the local DMV.

Now I, being the Benjamin Franklin of moonshine reviews, decided to experiment a little. I sprayed a bit of whipped cream in my strawberry moonshine glass. Honestly – it didn’t taste great, but I could easily see 21-year-old college students putting this to good use.

I was equally tempted to see how this moonshine would taste with a peanut butter stout beer; however, I don’t usually enjoy peanut butter stout beers. And if the first beer/moonshine cocktail didn’t taste well, I didn’t wanna get stuck with five more bottles. However, I welcome readers to give this a shot and let me know their thoughts.

My final verdict:

Midnight Moon outdid itself with this strawberry moonshine. I recommend you buy it, just to branch out of your comfort zone.

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Posted in History, Moonshine Review - Click Titles to Read More! :-), Personal Tales, Spirits, Travel Writing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Mother’s Amazing Collard Greens Recipe…

20161124_124043I wanted to end the month on a positive note, so I’ll do that by sharing a comfort food recipe that my grandmother and mother prepared around the Thanksgiving holiday: collard greens. This side dish is prepared throughout much of the South; for example Georgia, the birth home of my grandmother and mother.

It’s always been essential for me to pick up recipes from my family’s past. In a way, I was maintaining my grandmother’s memory and traditions with each dish, which was important since my grandmother died in 2003. I learned my grandmother’s sweet potato pie recipe, and I also taught myself how to prepare her savory cornbread. So my mother seemed delighted and mildly amused over the phone, when I asked for her collard green recipe.

For those who don’t know, collard greens (in their raw form) are these thick, leathery, durable leaves – almost the size of tobacco leaves. Collard greens are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin K, protein, fiber, calcium, and iron. As a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of vegetables, but collard greens definitely became an exception to that rule.

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The ingredients:

  • Two bundles of collard greens, about 1 pound each, (0.45392 kg.)
  • Two 2-pound (.907185 kg) packs of smoked pork neck bones / smoked turkey necks / smoked ham hocks (some kind of smoked pork or turkey meat)
  • One yellow onion
  • About two tablespoons of sea salt per pot
  • Ground pepper, season to your taste

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The Process:

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  1. Place your smoked meat in two large pots and fill the pots with water, until the water level just about covers the tops of the pieces.

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2. Chop the onion and evenly distribute the diced onion in both pots.

3. Grind peppercorns into each pot to your preferred taste.

4. Place about two tablespoons (29.5735 ml.) of sea salt in each pot.

20161124_1209075. Boil the water.

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6. Once the water boils, cover the pot and lower the stove temperature to “low.” Let that simmer for an hour.

20161124_1240437. While your smoked meat simmers, you’ll need to prepare your greens: remove the thick stem or stalk of the leaf, rinse each leaf (because it may have the occasional spot of mud or insect – consequences of agriculture, folks). And cut the leaves into smaller, more manageable sizes. Do this with both bushels.

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8. After an hour of your smoked meat simmering, please remove all the meat and set aside in a dish or bowl – you’ll need that later.

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9. Place the cut collard greens in the smoked meat/onions/seasoning broth, which is currently simmering. Add about two more cups (473.176 ml.) of water to each pot. Cover the pot. Let the greens simmer in the broth for 2.5 hours.

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10. As you’re waiting for your greens to cook, may I recommend a glass of Kentucky bourbon, neat or on the rocks. I’m currently enjoying Henry McKenna, single barrel, aged 10 years. Pour a couple of glasses and invite a friend over. Talk about something uncontroversial like religion or politics.

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Simmering away!

20161124_15061211. Anyway, after 2.5 hours, garnish your simmering greens with small cut portions of your smoked meat. Let that simmer for another 30 minutes.

20161124_16203312. Serve your greens, using a draining spoon. The dish is savory, with a robust smoky flavor.

Collard greens are comfort food, best shared with people you care about; whether you’re in the Southern United States, or anywhere else in the world. I recommend you try this at home. Enjoy, and more importantly, be kind to each other.

Posted in Food, History, Humor, Personal Tales, plants, Rural Cuisine, Rural Customs, Truth Salad with Fiction Dressing, Uncategorized, Washington, D.C. | Leave a comment

The Laughing Buddha & The Cornish Pasty…

downward-wod-20161002_142419I straddle my mountain bike, christened “The Goose,” atop a hill on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, (the W&OD). This portion of the hill intersects with Buckthorn Lane and Hunter Mill Road, near Vienna, Virginia. The trail propels cyclists down a steep pavement, aligned with trees and bushes, with the sides sweeping toward a private garden, a batter’s cage, and ditches. Crickets and toads sit as spectators to my action.

I imagine myself as Dave Bowman, the American astronaut exposed to the wonder of the Alien Monolith, during 2001: A Space Odyssey. However instead of stars, the wind, an occasional bumblebee, butterfly, or grasshopper pelt my body and face.

It’s not a struggle to keep the bike steady at this speed. More an obligation of subtle vigilance; small mistakes lead to catastrophic results.

The sound of a cherry pit being spat out catches my attention, then the sharp hissing of my front wheel. I decide to slow my bike into the gravel to prevent a crash. Upon my stop, the inner tube starves for air. Emaciated rubber dies against the spokes.

Did I pass over a stone or nail?

Did the tire, filled at a gas station earlier, hold too much pressure?

I don’t know. The answer won’t inflate my tire, so I walk. A local shop, Bikes@Vienna, is several miles away by foot. I anticipate more than an hour of walking.

The sun is strong. Indian Summer reminds the region of its presence, at least for a few more days in late October.

A fuzzy caterpillar strolls near my feet; next: a plump, bare, gray one. Their respective promenades quite urgent. Winter is less than two months away. Cocoons to assemble, timeshare branches to purchase on formidable trees. Munching that last bit of foliage before the frost. These little things distract the tediousness of my march on the trail toward town.

“Ya need any help?” an older cyclist asks me. He slows his rate of speed.

“Oh, I’m fine. Thanks. I just got a flat.”

The kind man continues his ride. I don’t want to impose. Riding his bike, instead of a pickup truck, I imagine there’s little help he can actually offer.

Four ladies ride past me. They stop several meters ahead; one of them had dropped something. I walk around them and smile briefly. Less than a minute later, they continue down the road. One complains about her seat lacking the comfort of a beach bike seat.

I sympathize. “Beach bike seat,” I chuckle. I actually wish I had one as well, sometimes. Once again, I’m alone on the trail.

Another cyclist peddles up the road. His arms are relaxed, not even touching his handlebars. He’s almost reclining in his seat, which is remarkable because his bike doesn’t appear in any danger of tipping over. He reminds me of the Laughing Buddha; except he has caramel-toned skin, he wears a tank top, shorts, sunglasses, mustache, and a soul patch. I think he’s Latino.

golden-smiling-buddha-hd-wallpapers“You alright?” He slows his bike, which requires him to actually touch his handlebars.

“Yeah, I just got a flat tire. I’m taking it to the bike shop.”

“You need help fixing it?”

“Naw, I’m good. I just gotta walk it into town.”

“I’ll fix it for ya, homie. I got some patches.”

“I don’t wanna take up your time.”

“I got no where to be until work, tonight.”

Since he seems accommodating, I steer the bike across the road toward him.

The Laughing Buddha removes a supply pack from the back of his bike and asks me to hold up my frame. He unlatches the front wheel and uses a slender tool to pry the tire and inner tube from the frame. He sits on the road, legs crossed, and begins to pump air into the inner tube.

“Squeeze the tube so we can hear the leak,” he says.

We both squeeze. I hear a seeping of air from a small tear in the rubber.

“Found it! Right there.”

“Cool.” He rubs the surface of the hole with a small abrasive material, and then he applies a patch about the size of a dime over it.

“You guys need any help?” Another cyclist slows down. This one sounds French.

“Um, nope; we’re good,” I say. “Just fixing a flat. Thank you, though.”

“Alright, take care.” And the French dude rides away. Interestingly enough, I’m touched by how considerate the other riders are. As if there’s a code of the bicycle: to help those bound by the wheels. Probably not, but it’s still a fun thought.

The Laughing Buddha asks me to hold the wheel as he pries the inner tube and tire back on the wheel.

“This should hold until you get to the bicycle shop.”

“Thanks! It’s kind of you to do this. I gotta ask if I can pay you in any way.”

“Just pay it forward, homie.”

“What’s your name?”

“Sam.”

“Thank you, Sam,” I say. “I’m Corey.”

“Alright, take care, homie.”

And he literally got back on his bike and peddled away without the use of his handlebars.

I receive a “deus ex machina” event about once every few years. And I must say, this is probably the coolest version I’ve had in a while.

***

bikes-vienna-2-20161019_133243Less than thirty minutes later, I arrive at Bikes@Vienna, off Church Street. Tim and Daniel, the mechanics, offer quick and courteous service. My tire and inner tube are replaced, the rate’s reasonable, and I thank them both for their assistance.

pure-pasty-20161019_134009I already have lunch at home, but to celebrate the repairs, I decide to step into a curious little shop called The Pure Pasty Co. I’m sensing an English theme (and who doesn’t like English themes), so I enter.

“What’s a ‘paste-ee’?” I ask.

“It’s like an English savory pie,” the lady behind the counter says, “Oh, and it’s pronounced ‘pah-stee’.”

This delicacy specifically comes from Cornwall, so I guess it’s a Cornish pasty. I purchase the Aussie: a pie of grass-fed ground beef, herbs, and chuck steak, with a tomato and bacon-based gravy. Just four calories! (I’m kidding).

pastyAnyway, once I arrive home I grab an iced peach tea and devour the Cornish pasty. It’s amazing. Despite the accident, today was a great day. I’ll return to The Pure Pasty Co. And I’ll take to heart the advice of Sam, the Laughing Buddha willing to help homies in distress.

 

 

Posted in bikes, Food, Humor, Personal Tales, Uncategorized, W&OD Trail, Washington, D.C. | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lesson on Beauty…

20160904_134651I knew this girl in junior high; most of the kids in school considered her quite attractive. She congregated in a circle of lovely friends, with her as the “Queen Bee” of that little hive. I won’t provide her name.

Unlike the cinematic trope seen in most teen films, she was kind, intelligent, and gracious. She even accepted my request to accompany me during my senior year beautillion, sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in Cincinnati. She had a good soul. I hope she still does.

During one Valentine’s Day party in junior high, I remember summoning the courage to approach her. I gave her a greeting card and she smiled. I then told her she was beautiful.

I’ll never forget her expression upon hearing this: boredom. As if she heard it before, so frequently that the compliment no longer resonated with her.

This was a mystery to my thirteen-year-old psyche, because I thought people enjoyed praise, especially regarding their physicality. Yet after observing how disciplined she was about her studies, selecting a college, and deciding her future, any statements about her looks seemed pedestrian. And from then on, I learned an essential lesson: I never complimented a beautiful woman about her looks if I wasn’t emotionally and physically involved with her. Even in the context of dating, beauty (more often than not) became the last attribute that I’d praise. In time, when validated, I was comfortable declaring:

“You’re a wise woman.”

“That was a brave decision.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Great idea.”

“You’re a tough chick.”

Or, “You have the stamina to do so much more.”

Have I ever thought certain women were physically attractive? Yeah, plenty of times. But I avoid congratulating beautiful women on qualities that are determined by genetics. I mean, sure, one can go to the gym, practice healthy dietary habits, and even (through the aid of finances) receive cosmetic surgery. But through keen observation, over the years, I’ve grown to believe that attractive women – maybe even attractive men as well – are so accustomed to being valued for their appearance that it turns some off to receive verbal praise. It’s basic. And no one likes being basic.

20160905_091352Sure, there’re probably beautiful women and handsome men who bask in this praise. They revel in the adoration of others, enjoying the occasional perk of having an advantage in job opportunities, more variety in dating, and a host of other joys that the less attractive will never be privy to indulging. … Unless they’re rich (and that’s another essay for another time).

And yet.

I still recall that expression of boredom by my friend, and yes by the time we graduated, we did become friends. That boredom from being told she was beautiful. She yearned to earn her place in the world; she desired validity by merit.

I became acquainted with other women like her in undergrad and graduate school. I sweated and enduring hardships with women like her during my years in Peace Corps, in West Africa. And I collaborated with women like her, professionally, in Washington, D.C. Women who wished to prove themselves, despite their appearance. That’s not even taking into account issues of gender equity, sexism, and cultural patriarchy.

In some cases, it doesn’t take too much effort to ignore someone’s physical beauty. Especially if that person doesn’t have anything essential to contribute to a conversation – the same can occur with unattractive people, of course.

However, something curious happens when you allow your reason to get beyond the surface. In time, you’ll earn the respect of that attractive woman, or handsome man, when you praise them on their accomplishments or judge them on their merit.

I mean this should be obvious, right? A lesson that’s learned during adolescence. So, why are adults, well into their later years, repeating this habit? Giving a pass that’s not earned for the right reason? You’ve seen it and you’ve done it. Unfortunately, I have too.

Skeptical? I understand. But it does pique the curiosity of the attractive person. They’ll trust you more for taking this perspective. This argument doesn’t have manipulative intensions. Don’t we all wish approval based on our accomplishments and character, instead of what you see in the mirror?

Presently, the most attractive friend I have is also endowed with considerable bravery, she’s possesses a sharp mind, she’s an entrepreneur, and she has an exceptional sense of humor. She’s fun, and I’ve known her for years. Someday, decades from now, she may no longer maintain her outer beauty. And that’s okay. Because her friends have grown to love everything else about her, a long time ago.

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A Visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture…

museum-20161001_165151When approaching the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the first thing I notice is its size. “Monolithic” comes to mind. On the National Mall of Washington, D.C., the trapezoidal prism encompasses five-acres. Its scale placed into perspective by its neighbor: the Washington Monument, that 168 year-old marble obelisk rising above its new sister, encased in ornate, bronze-colored metal lattice.

washington-20161001_164933The prism’s three-tiered crowns are inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa. Its architecture is influenced by classic Greco-Roman form, in its base and shaft, and topped by a capital or corona, according to the museum’s website. The museum was designed and built by the architectural team Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, with Philip Freelon as the lead architect and David Adjaye as the lead designer. They broke ground for the museum in February 2012 and its doors opened to a “limited” public viewing on September 24, 2016.

During brunch on Saturday, October 1st, my friend Amy offered me an opportunity to experience the museum. She had “Advanced Online Passes,” which are no longer available. Currently, entrance into the museum occurs through “Same Day Timed Passes,” which are given away at the Connecticut Ave. entrance, beginning at 9:15a.m.

Complicated? Yes.

We soon learned to what extent when our cab arrived at the location. Hundreds of people were waiting to enter. Because our passes were designated for a specific morning time period, we were able to advance beyond the lines.

This blog won’t even attempt to become an exhaustive resource about NMAAHC, or its 36,000 artifacts; there’s a website for that. However, I can tell you how it felt for me to enter these halls, which represent the African-American experience.

Reverence, familiarity, nostalgia, pride, and respect; these emotions swelled within me during my insufficient three hours exploring the museum. I’m reminded of my time exploring the Louvre Museum, in Paris. Yeah, I saw the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo, but there still wasn’t enough time to fully appreciate all that I beheld.

At the African American History Museum, the curators are in overdrive, answering each question with courtesy, patience, and suggestions for the visitors to have as fulfilling an experience as possible.

first-floor-20161001_145800I ascend each of the floors. Natural light shines through the museum’s sheer walls of window and artisanal bronze lattice. Fathers are carrying their children atop shoulders, mothers are pushing strollers, and couples are walking hand-and-hand. Although each floor is crowded, folks are respectful. They immediately make room for elderly women in wheelchairs, they speak in whispers, no one pushes – in fact, a few wait while others (before them) finish reading about specific exhibits. Demographically, about 75% of the visitors are black; the remaining 25% are white, Asian American, and Latino.gift-shop-20161001_145850

storyboard-20161001_163141rotunda-20161001_151930I traversed the top floor with Amy. We entered a dark rotunda, lit by panoramic digital displays of African-American artisans, athletes, musicians, dancers, vocalists, all across the upper walls. On the lower walls, were artifacts such as ironwork and sweetgrass baskets from the South Carolina Lowcountry, paintings by Southwestern artists, and handmade apparel from decades’ past.sweetgrass-baskets-20161001_152437

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“This came from us. We made this. Our people made this.” This statement probably flashed in my mind more than anything else. This statement didn’t come from a place of astonishment, or shock. I knew from the time I was a child how talented African-Americans are. As any ethnicity and nationality is talented: those of European, Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, and Latin-American descent.

Hear me out.

I knew our potential for talent, because my mentors, my teachers, my mother and grandparents ensured that I understood – even when I never (or rarely) saw it on television or movies or magazines. In popular media, sometimes blacks are buffoons, comic relief, loud, “sassy,” violent, threatening, impulsive, unintelligent, and irrational.

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august-wilson-2-20161001_154339In this museum, we’re playwrights, blacksmiths, poets, choreographers, authors, sculptures, journalists, chemists, astrophysicists, governors, generals, actors & actresses, athletes, and a president.

This museum isn’t just representative of the American-American experience; it’s the American experience, a narrative that resonates with any person born from immigrant origins (forced or voluntary).

During my limited tour of the museum, I saw exhibits devoted toward regional cultures in the U.S., the Civil Rights Movement, governance & law, and sports. I never knew there was an African-American community in Martha’s Vineyard, but I learned this during my visit.

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I also experienced exhibits centered on music: West-African inspired, folk, Negro spirituals, ragtime, the blues, jazz, R&B, funk, and hip-hop. I also saw exhibits focused on the theater, cinema, and television – the horrific and the exceptional. Blackface minstrel shows and W.D. Griffiths’ Birth of a Nation, or Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and August Wilson’s Fences. All of these performances, for better or worst, defined our culture, defined America’s culture, and perhaps the world’s culture.birth-20161001_155109gullah-20161001_140645

If you see teenagers listening to hip-hop on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, or you’re enjoying a live jazz performance in Amsterdam or Tokyo, then yes – you can attribute that to African American culture. But this narrative goes beyond entertainment or watching sports. It’s validating millions of people, originating from a continent of billions, which has been exploited and underestimated for centuries. It’s about respect. Mutual respect. Not given, but earned.

I’ll return to the museum again, when possible. But I’d like to challenge you to visit it as well. You’ll be welcomed there. You’ll honor yourself for doing so.

Posted in History, Old-Time Folk Music, Personal Tales, Rural Cuisine, Rural Customs, Travel Writing, Uncategorized, Washington, D.C. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Farewell to Summer on the W&OD Trail…

trail-20160505_115432When I need fresh air and exercise, I cycle the Washington & Old Dominion trail, a 45-mile pathway through northern Virginia, between Shirlington and Purcellville. The path follows the former roadbed of the W&OD railway.

Walkers, joggers, and cyclists enjoy this path, paved with nine-foot-wide asphalt, and a painted yellow line in its center. Its non-motorized traffic flows in both directions. Equestrians ride an adjacent 32-mile horse trail, laid with gravel. Folks are given an opportunity to see creeks, rolling backwoods, and a little bit of marshland (depending on the season).

On the outer perimeters of the trail, at least near Vienna, are suburban homes with vast yards adjoined to the bushes, woods, and creeks, with the trail as an artery and the pedestrians and bikers as its blood. Pumping life through miles of its green body.

toad-14311271_10157725155355354_3266367679137816064_oAs for wildlife, there’s an assortment of deer, snakes, toads, and turtles. Though I’ve never seen them, there are also predators, such as foxes, bobcats, opossums, raccoons, weasels, skunks, and hawks. If you catch a scent of carrion, perhaps you’ll see turkey vultures on high. But one rarely discusses carrion on a family trail, non?deer-20160910_185450

The segment of road that I enter is in the town of Vienna, off Maple Ave., across from the local Whole Foods Market. The path cuts through parking lots, mechanic garages, martial arts studios, a community park, and a historic red caboose. And that’s just before the green tunnel of forestry.

Depending on the day and time of the week, the trail could be spacious and serene, or congested with families of cyclists, elderly couples on promenade, or the occasional three-wheeled cruiser. Whether crowded or empty, I respect the trail for what it grants me: invigoration, a sensory deluge, sore thighs and calves from pedaling; fatigued forearms, tight from gripping the handles of my bike; sweaty workout clothes, memories of speed, and a barrel vision of green, blue, green, and a black road.

As I ride, I’ll hear a faint, “on your left.”

And I’ll respond with a nod or thumbs up.

I stay cognizant of safety. Taking a pass around a slower cyclist isn’t worth injuring someone, if I see approaching riders. I also allow the occasional road bike to zoom around me. My mountain bike is durable and great for off roads, but it’s nowhere near as fast as the alloyed bicycles that are purchased each year.

I have my smart phone set for a 35-minute alarm. That’s when I know I’ve reached half of the 12.4-mile trek, from home to the trail-point, then back.

It’s rare that I see path regulars. There’s the inline skating woman that always waves when she sees me, which is nice. Unaccustomed kindness should never become antiquated.

At the halfway mark, where the trail crosses Hunter Mill Rd., I stop and drink from an ice-cold canteen. Frozen water strapped to my back rack, it thaws by the time I’m more than six miles into my ride. The water defies the summer humidity and sun, my reward for an earnest effort. I look toward the Rose & Jane vintage shop, a cool store where I bought a metal kazoo, because I haven’t seen a kazoo in ages.Kazoo.jpg

“Oh, is this for one of your kids,” Anne, the storeowner, asked.

“Um, no. It’s for me,” I sheepishly confessed. I also purchased a vintage Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds – though I’m not a fan of candy.

If I’m riding back on a weekend, and I have a generous amount of time, I’ll stop at the Caboose Brewing Co. just on the edge of Vienna, along the trail. They brew fantastic IPAs, pale ales, and stout beers. The location is a Mecca for young parents, who still remember what it was like to drink with their friends before having kids. Their children chase each other on the lawn between the brew house and the trail. The establishment’s kitchen serves small plates – a culinary zeitgeist that annoys me to no end, but the beer forgives this decision. And for the record, the food is delicious.caboose

Along the way home, I decode my bike through the combination of routes: a turn on Maple Ave., then Nutley Street, and finally Lee Highway. I check how much inertia can coast me through my community parking lot, before the need to pedal again. My wheels form a crescent on my left turn, gliding before a jarring stop in front of my home.

My legs are dusty – slightly itchy, and my jersey and shorts cool my body by the residual sweat. I lift my bike, and I thank the trail and the summer for helping me feel alive.corey-on-bike-14289979_10157724546465354_683967984276157884_o

The summer will depart in the next few weeks, but the trail will remain. I look forward to its wonders revealed by autumn leaves and chilled air.

Posted in Appalachia, bikes, nature, Personal Tales, Travel Writing, Uncategorized, Virginia, W&OD Trail | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment