Category Archives: DC Commute Scenes

Week Three of 30 Days of Biking (and Poetry) in Washington, D.C.

Bicycling is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a city. As riders, we easily exchange hellos with others on our route. We feel the bumps of the road, see flowers bloom and fall, and watch the waves of people (and buses, did I mention buses?) come and go through the District.

Thanks to everybody who has been following along with this year’s 30 Days of Biking photo and poetry project. April rides have been so rewarding, allowing me to seek out both new and familiar writers while also exploring my city.

Last year, 30 Days of Biking helped renew my interest in urban cycling, and that  carried through into this year. The city is such a dynamic place, changing under our noses if we pay any attention.

Day 15
Day15
Bells. A time to turn
for home. But now you
pretend to listen to a
piano in the window of
the music store. Songs
shine at the corners of
your eyes. Whether to
turn another corner is
the sadness.
–Donald W. Baker, Waiting
Day 16

Day16

Hoy viene a mi la damisela soledad
con pamela, impertinentes y botón
de amapola en el oleaje de sus vuelos.
Hoy la voluble señorita es amistad
y acaricia finalmente el corazón
con su más delgado pétalo de hielo.
Por eso hoy
gentilmente te convido a pasear
por el patio, hasta el florido pabellón
de aquel árbol que plantaron los abuelos.
Hoy el ensueño es como el musgo en el brocal
dibujando los abismos de un amor
melancólico, sutil, pálido cielo.
–Silvio Rodríguez, Oh Melancolía
Day 17

Day17

And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realize how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognizing a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.
–Stephen Dobyns, [Over a cup of coffee]
Day 18
Day18
Slowly, slowly wisdom gathers:
Golden dust in the afternoon,
Somewhere between the sun and me,
Sometimes so near that I can see,
Yet never settling, late or soon.
Would that it did, and a rug of gold
Spread west of me a mile or more:
Not large, but so that I might lie
Face up, between the earth and sky,
And know what none has known before.
–Mark Van Doren, Slowly, Slowly Wisdom Gathers
Day 19

Day19

I am dying to be written about in your diary
and my self-involvement extends to endless
photographs of my eye makeup, which might be described
as “signature.” FYI I prefer a fine brush to a pen.
What can be said about slush, about the corners cut when cleaning
the fridge. What can be said about what is considered
to be ordinary. Crucially, love is a desire
to be a witness and be witnessed, how you might skate
past the provisional. If the house were burning down
I would rescue all the photographs
–Amy Key, Announcement and Next Steps
Day 20

Day20

The song is drink, is color. Come now, taste
what the world has to offer. When you eat
you will know that music comes in guises—
bold of crepe myrtle, sweet of daffodil—
beyond sound, guises they never told you
could be true. And they aren’t. Except they are
so real now, this spring, you know them, taste them.
–Camille T. Dungy, What to Eat, What to Drink, and What to Leave for Poison
Day 21

Day21

Did I say I was a creature
of habit?
I meant the opposite.
I meant behavior
is a pile of clothes
I might or might not wear.
Before all the sowing and reaping
could go on for centuries,
before the calendar,
I must have been convinced
that my movements
were both mandated
and blessed.
–Rae Armantrout, Life’s Work

Week Two of 30 Days of Biking (and Poetry) in Washington, D.C.

Day 8

Day 8 Capital Bikeshare

How it is fickle, leaving one alone to wander

the halls of the skull with the fluorescents
softly flickering. It rests on the head

like a bird nest, woven of twigs and tinsel
and awkward as soon as one stops to look.
That pile of fallen leaves drifting from

the brain to the fingertip burned on the stove,

to the grooves in that man’s voice
as he coos to his dog, blowing into the leaves

of books with moonlit opossums
and Chevrolets easing down the roads
of one’s bones.

–Joanie Mackowski, Consciousness

Day 9

Day 9 Blossoms and mixte on Ohio Drive

This rose-tree is not made to bear
The violet blue, nor lily fair,
Nor the sweet mignionet:
And if this tree were discontent,
Or wished to change its natural bent,
It all in vain would fret.
Mary Lamb, Envy

Day 10

Day 10 Under the blossoms with the mixte

I know flowers to be funeral companions
they make poisons and venoms
and eat abandoned stone walls

I know flowers shine stronger
than the sun
their eclipse means the end of
times

but I love flowers for their treachery
their fragile bodies
grace my imagination’s avenues
without their presence
my mind would be an unmarked
grave.
Etal Adnan, from The Spring Flowers Own

Day 11

Day 11 Sunrise tandem ride with Felkerino

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e. e. cummings [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

Day 12

Day 12: Inspecting a new spot with the mixte

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
–Carl Sandburg, Doors

Day 13

Day 13: Bikes and blossoms at sunset

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
–Li-Young Lee, From Blossoms

Day 14

Day 14 fender and flower

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
–Emily Dickinson, “Hope” is the thing with feathers –

Peak Blossom Days in Washington, D.C.

This weekend the cherry blossoms reached peak bloom in Washington, D.C. Knowing their fragile nature, people flooded the city to see them– cameras, cars, and all.

Hains Point and blossoms

Despite my disdain for all the cars and buses they draw, it impresses me that a bunch of pink flowers can have such a profound effect on people.

Mixte and blossoms on Hains Point

Including me. Every day, I have steadily watched the blossoms on my commutes, and recorded their transformation. I found them irresistible.

Monument mixte and blossoms

I was even compelled to leave home early a few times this past week so as to avoid the bus-driven hordes and sneak in a few extra minutes in the flowers’ expanding presence.

Cherry blossoms and mixte

Cool gloomy days that preluded the warm sun-filled weekend helped.

Magnolias and mixte

They don’t receive quite the same level of attention, but the magnolias have been providing an impressive canopy for us this week as well.

Magnolia reflection

Soon they, too, will lose their leaves so that other flowers might have their day.

Sunset mixte by Potomac and blossoms

I can already smell the first hints of honeysuckle.

Stillness in the Ruckus of Washington, D.C.

Buses align Ohio Drive, one after the other, and block my once-daily view of the Potomac.

Large chatty groups of tourists swarm the National Mall, oblivious to the bike commuters that weave around them. They start the day early, and I fail to wake up any earlier to avoid their field trips.

The sudden influx is an annual jolt. The quiet commute is gone. Rush hour noises surround me. They seem even louder than before. People chatter and shout, buses belch and surge. And there’s honking. Always honking.

I still seek stillness in the ruckus. It’s my silent scavenger hunt. Instinct guides me, and the camera in hand is like an extra set of eyes.

A moment may be all there is before a still spot vanishes. Years ago, that would anger me. Now it is all I need.

Forsythia on the Mall
Forsythia on the Mall
Bike shadow on Green
Bike shadow on Green
Early Blossoms on the Mall
Early Blossoms on the Mall
Tidal Basin plus Surly
Tidal Basin plus Surly

Fallen flowers on 14th Street

Celebrating a sunny warm day as the cars go by
Celebrating a sunny warm day as the cars go by

Birthday Week Bike Rides in BikeDC

Dear Washington, D.C., my current city of residence,

I discovered a better way to maneuver around you after too many years as a subterranean Metro passenger.

Monday Afternoon at the Monument
Monday Afternoon at the Monument

Your dense pinwheel layout and abundant side streets instilled a belief that I could pedal your roads without too much angst or trouble.

Tuesday Morning Under the 14th Street Bridge
Tuesday Morning Under the 14th Street Bridge

My first days were simple routes, from Adams Morgan to L’Enfant Plaza. I had lots to learn. There were missteps, like that one morning I was late to work and foolishly tried to rip down 14th Street. I won’t tell if you won’t.

Tuesday Morning Cheesy Monument Photo Time with the Jefferson
Tuesday Morning Cheesy Monument Photo Time with the Jefferson

But I gained confidence. I explored. You became even more easily navigable than I first imagined.

Tuesday 15th Street Cycletrack and These Horses
Tuesday 15th Street Cycletrack and These Horses

Through the years, we’ve come to know each other better, you and I. You’re a decent place for us cyclists, D.C.

Wednesday by the Jefferson. Watching the Tourists Arrive
Wednesday by the Jefferson. Watching the Tourists Arrive

The cars have tried to take you over, but you still save some parts of yourself just for us. Never concede them, please. Try and reclaim others, if you can.

Thursday Under Memorial Bridge
Thursday Under Memorial Bridge

This is my birthday week– a week in March that also marks the changing of the seasons.

Thursday. Calm water on the Potomac. The Surly wants its own Shot.
Thursday. Calm water on the Potomac. The Surly wants its own Shot.

Before the buses block the view of the Potomac River and the tourists overtake your streets and sidewalks, I captured some moments of us together.

I also snuck in my own tourist photo.

Cheesy pre-work selfie with my favorite cycling partner
Cheesy pre-work selfie with my favorite cycling partner
Ending the Week with a Rainy Pass through the White House Plaza
Ending the Week with a Rainy Pass through the White House Plaza

The city. My bike. Me.

I think we look good together, and I look forward to another year with you. Let’s hope it’s the best year yet.

Washington, D.C. Bike Commute Scrapbook

Morning ride to American University. Many nice plants here.
Morning ride to American University. Many nice plants here.

What a week. Four sparkling summer days, top notch training, and a ride along with a friend on a couple of days, too. I celebrated the end of my Bike Friday Tikit field trips to Northwest D.C. with a photo safari on today’s ride home, in part to stretch out my time in the afternoon sun and also to remind me why I should travel this way again soon. Continue reading Washington, D.C. Bike Commute Scrapbook

Alex Baca Farewell Tour #leftandleaving

Alex B. Farewell Tour

Over the past week I’ve been thinking about our #bikeDC friend, Alex Baca, who has left D.C. (for now, at least) for a new opportunity San Francisco.

As part of Alex’s farewell activities, of which there appeared to be several, some of us coordinated an “Alex Baca Farewell Tour.”  The weather even cooperated to bring us ideal temperatures and sun the day of the ride. Thanks, weather!

Continue reading Alex Baca Farewell Tour #leftandleaving

Cherry Blossom Farewell: Petals, Puddles, and Pavement


Surly LHT and cherry trees

One of my favorite times in Washington, D.C., is when the cherry blossoms reach out to say hello to all of us. Another is when these delicate petals fall, leaving a textured pink layer over grass and pavement.

Continue reading Cherry Blossom Farewell: Petals, Puddles, and Pavement