Letter from Birdland: Time to stop, learn my lesson

Letter from Birdland: Time to stop, learn my lesson

In Birdland we are thirsty, thirsty for a summer storm. Today was cool but very humid.

If only some of the moisture in the air would soak into the earth!

Yesterday evening I stepped outside and smelled rain. Clouds were gathered to the east — had probably passed right over our heads while we were fixing dinner. It looks like somebody got rain, but it didn't fall here.

School has started again, and already I have learned a very important lesson: Follow all the traffic laws, even if you're riding your bike.

My foot is sufficiently healed to ride my bike 2 miles to my office, but not to walk the same distance. That's OK. I'd rather ride anyway.

I do try to be safe on my bike, but I confess I had been taking some liberties. When I get to a four-way stop, I generally brake and look both ways, but if nobody's coming I don't come to a full stop.

Yesterday I must have really pushed it without noticing — but someone else noticed. I got through the empty intersection without incident, but half a block later a police officer waved me over and pointed to the curb.

"Uh oh!" I thought. "WWTRTD?" In my mind I played a quick scenario: "Do you know who I am? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? YOU'RE GOING TO READ ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE PAPER!"

But I am not the Reluctant Townie nor even a movie star; I am a middle-aged woman with bunions and my hair in a bun, so I thought better of it.

We had a pleasant conversation. I gave him my ID, and he gave me a ticket — to the tune of $185! I know he only had my safety (and the safety of the campus community) at heart, so it's OK. I might have been a bit more disappointed (at my luck, sure, but above all, in myself) if he hadn't also given me an informational pamphlet.

It seems that if I complete an online bike safety course, my ticket will be forgiven.

He asked me to pass the word about bike safety, and so I am telling everyone.

Before I rode away, I took the opportunity to ask our public servant some questions.

The answers:

— No, although helmets are a very good idea, they are not required by law.

— Yes, it's OK to ride on the sidewalk unless it's posted as prohibited, but we should use good sense and prefer the street when we can — especially if the sidewalks are crowded.

(I was mostly concerned about if I can continue with my usual route that takes me through the Boneyard Basin and Scott Park, which is not crowded during my commute — and a lovely green interlude in my ride.)

And a complete stop technically means to "stop all motion," so we should really make a good effort to stop, and sometimes that means you have to stomp your foot down, even if you're an old lady like me.

In the garden, tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen.

I got so used to seeing the hard green spheres. When I went out to feed the chickens this morning and peered half-halfheartedly into the jungle of green the one red tomato (like a red light suddenly lit) caught my eye.

It was perfectly ripe, and when I looked deeper into the heart of the foliage, I saw another, and another, until I filled my scoop with tomatoes and cucumbers.

A nice trade for a little bit of chicken feed.

Yield in beauty; stop in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is grateful for the reminder to be safe and for the opportunity to see your taxes at work. You can read more of her writings and see photos at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Hays can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

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