My buddy Linda mentioned this morning how beautiful it was outside when she went walking her dog Lucy, and that inspired me to take a nice, long bike trip. It’s been very hot here in Central Florida, as you all know, but I’ve been doggedly making little bike tours of Seminole County so that I can stay limber and keep my heart from turning into American cheese.
You gotta determine where you’re going, I’ve discovered, or else you wind aimlessly through the streets of Eastbrook subdivision, deploring the state of people’s garages. I decided I would go out to Oviedo, which is about ten miles from here on the Trail. The Trail actually ends around at around Mitchell Hammock, but you can negotiate the sidewalks after that. Drivers, I’ve found, are very friendly. I tend to grow confused at intersections that involve more than one light, so what I generally do is push the buttons on the signal poles, mutter an Ave Maria, genuflect, and then hightail it across seventeen lanes of traffic; Ive been cursed at in nine languages so far. Actually I jest– I’m very careful at this stage of my life, and wisely refrain from antagonizing people who are negotiating three thousand pounds of steel.
Look at this photo of the Greeneway overpass– it reminds me of those etchings of ancient Roman ruins that the English “discovered” in Italy when they all stampeded to the Continent for their Grand Tour. “Turn ’round, Cassiopeia, while I sketch these phalli.” This overpass is relatively new, but I like how it already resembles a scenic ruin:
Past here are some new houses which don’t seem to fit into the landscape. I suppose you could ignore them, but what happens is that you’re usually assaulted by the sickly sweet scent of clothes dryer exhaust pouring from vents– you know, that heated smell from fabric softener sheets, which is vomititious and impossible to ignore:
Downtown Oviedo is kind of congested, traffic-wise, for a small town; that’s because all sorts of roads come together there, and you experience another confusion of lights and signals and crosswalks. They’ve even gone and muddled things up further by jamming a traffic circle in the midst of things. Americans are genetically indisposed to things like traffic circles. Even four-way stops drive us to distraction– have you seen how the residents of Baldwin Park act at four-way stops? Incredibly imbecilic!
But a short distance from all this is Lake Charm, and a grand lady of a home:
I called Kirk from here to say where the hell I was, and of course my cell battery was depleted. I don’t even know why I carry that thing around.
When I got to downtown Oviedo on the way back, there was a large rooster in the road; I guess I could have written “cock,” but that would have been horribly sophomoric:
In a way, Oviedo is still very much a country town, and this proves it. I made sure not to get too close to him; I’m afraid of most farm animals. One time in Key West we got off the bus from the airport and started walking the block to our hotel; I was soon surrounded by chickens and too afraid to move.
Here’s a neat little house on Lake Jesup Road, south of town. I could live here, reading and writing and painting, but not raising chickens.
And here’s all the mulch you could ever want, mountains of it on Mitchell Hammock Road:
I could smell it from across the road, warm and earthy and a little bit spicy. That’s the great thing about biking all over– you get to smell things. When you pass a stand of soughing pines in the breeze, the whole atmosphere seems mentholated, or like a clean kitchen. Sometimes when the land is low and swampy, you smell sulphur and rotten things. Who knows what’s decomposing out there in the forest? You don’t want to go looking.
Another great thing about biking is that you’re away from distractions. It’s just you and your bike and the air. You feel strangely removed from everything as it passes by to the left and right. The right brain takes over and you start free-thinking, and it’s amazing what all that blood pumping through your body and brain can do. I get a lot of my best writing ideas when I bike. Do I ever remember to carry a notebook? Of course not… I should, now that I’ve trained myself to wear a little backpack. (ID, a few bucks, a useless cell phone, and a camera.)
If anyone ever wants to join me on one of these jaunts, say the word!