Taking a break from talking politics

lilies 1


Though thinking and writing and worrying about the awful news takes up a lot of time and emotional space, I’m also enjoying summer’s simple pleasures, with a little more time this year than in the past several years. So here are three of my favorites:

Biking is fun again this summer. Not sure why, but the carpal tunnel symptoms that were triggered by biking for the past few years seem to have gone away, leaving me free to enjoy morning sunshine on Summit Avenue’s bike trail, trips to the grocery store, and trying out the Midtown Greenway on the other side of the river.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Holland twice in my life, and I loved the Dutch biking. Spandex and speed played no part — bikes and people and cars and motorbikes all shared the road, all going more slowly than typical Twin Cities speeds. I’m trying to remember that, and to enjoy the trip, however I’m traveling.

Sheldon Mains and Cycles for Change and Nice Ride’s new orange bikes also make me feel good about biking. Sheldon has been working for a couple of years to make SPOKES the go-to place for adults learning to bike, and learning to take care of bikes. Cycles for Change does something similar, on a bigger scale, with a bike lending library, multiple locations, build-a-bike projects, and more. Nice Ride is loaning out 147 free orange bikes to people in Frogtown, North Minneapolis, and the East Side of St. Paul this summer, hoping to get people in some less bike-friendly neighborhoods hooked on biking.

As I bike more, I see the need for more bike-friendly roadways, but that’s a topic for another day. With the roads we have now, and even with the challenge of hills, biking is a sweet summer pleasure.

Gardening is another simple summer pleasure, especially now that the yard is filled with flowers and they are basically crowding out the weeds — at last! Early mornings, I check my garden kingdom, watering hose in hand for the thirsty containers. Our soil is contaminated with lead from years of leaded gasoline pollution by cars on the nearby freeway, so my vegetables are all container-grown, mostly in composted soil from Ramsey County’s yard waste sites. That’s also where I hauled giant tubs of weeds pulled throughout May and June and July, along with tree branches and old raspberry canes.

I hope to take all of our compostable food waste to the Ramsey County drop-off on a weekly basis … just as soon as I get organized enough to do so. My backyard composting efforts never worked well, but now there’s an alternative:

“Ramsey County residents now have the opportunity to recycle their organic waste for FREE at a Ramsey County Yard Waste site (except Arden Hills).  This includes food scraps, non-recyclable paper products, coffee grounds, dryer lint and more! “

My garden yields more than flowers — dill and basil and sage and thyme! Handfuls of raspberries, skinny peppers and the first glowing cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard lead on to the third simple summer pleasure …

Food! I’m enjoying simple grilling, as well as quick stir fry for lots of veggies. Fresh, summer-ripe fruit also pairs well with yogurt and a drizzle of honey. Eating well has never been easier.

All that, and the State Fair yet to come!

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