sharing the trails with friendsPosted: October 30, 2013
I’m usually riding the trails by myself, sometimes enjoying some fine tunes as I pedal along. But I’m never truly alone. It isn’t just the human trail regulars I encounter every day – there is a whole network of wildlife regulars as well. Riding the same daily route gives me the opportunity to encounter my network of critter friends regularly.
Along my ride I see bunnies, squirrels, quail, field mice, wild turkeys, snakes, lizards, coyotes, and deer. There are the neighborhood cats, some of whom are so used to me they don’t run away as I pass. I lectured one today, telling him that he knows he can trust me, but maybe not others so he needs to be careful. There’s the big dog sitting in his back yard watching me go by. I can always tell when someone in the neighborhood just moved in or got a new dog because it barks. My buddies are used to me and they just watch me go by. I wave as I glide past.
I watch the seasons reflected in the wildlife I’m fortunate enough to see. The Spring is full of bunnies. Mid-summer is when the mama quail have their little baby quail with them. It seems like there are dozens of tiny quail. I have narrowly missed them as they run across the trail, their little legs a blur. Now that it’s Fall the baby animals are grown. The snakes and lizards no longer sun themselves on the hot, sun-drenched pavement. However, the deathwish squirrels are active, running in front of my tires with mouths full of acorns. I call them deathwish squirrels because inevitably when I see one at the side of the trail, it will run across my path just as I near it. Crazy knucklehead squirrels.
I have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a river otter sliding back into the creek as I approached early one morning and there were a few times I saw bobcats watching me from small bluffs at the side of the trail. Above me soar hawks, looking for prey. And I see lots of red-winged blackbirds clinging to the reeds in the marshy areas.
Seeing a critter makes the ride so much more enjoyable. Imagine people in cars, never getting the opportunity to see a river otter silently slide back into the water or never noticing the coyote standing in the middle of an open field, intently watching for field mice. They miss out on so much. They miss hearing the birdsong along their travels.
One of the truest joys of cycling is feeling in harmony with all the critters I know are just over in that clump of trees or down that riverbank. Sometimes they make themselves known and sometimes they don’t. But they’re always there. And I feel honored to share this little corner of the world with them.