It is, in fact, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, as Fred would say. The temperature is in the low 60s, the sun is shining brightly, and at 8 o’clock I’m off for a bicycle ride around America’s premier urban park. Near the picnic grounds along Wells Drive just past the traffic circle at Government Drive, I spy a young cheerful looking young man spraying herbicide in one of the rock line and water channels in the park. I stop to get a photo, but he is a little bit reluctant to talk to me. When I quiz them about what he’s spraying for, he responds “broadleaf plants”. He does not want to let me take his picture so I ride off down the hill toward the Zoo before turning to go around the West End of the zoo through the Kennedy Forest. I meet an older woman there walking along the path and as I call out a cheerful “good morning” she takes off her shoe and wields it in her right hand just in case. I had not previously been aware that I look so dangerous.
As I pass the Muny I see two great egrets fishing in the waters to the west of me, so I stop to watch. iIn the distance I hear the roar of mowers cutting grass, the rustle of the wind in the trees, chirps of redwing blackbirds and robins. I see another great egret fly over head toward the east. It must be breakfast time in Forest Park. The banks of the stream are lined with spider wort, golden Alexander and fleabane. Every so often trucks, buses, and cars disturb my reverie as they rumble over the bridge behind me.
Sonia walks past me as I soak up the ambiance, looking as if she stepped out of the pages of an Ernest Hemingway novel. Wearing a very smart poncho and panama hat, she strides toward her destination, wherever that might be. I turn out of the circle and across the bridge to the west and a robin races me along government drive curious to see what I’m up to. He leaves only when I swerve onto the bicycle path by the boathouse on my way home. 15 miles total ride.