On the cusps of night and day

After record-breaking heat this past week we finally cooled down a bit yesterday.  And with a Saturday evening with nothing to do we loaded the canoe on the car, grabbed our fishing rods, and headed out for some lake-time.  As we put in to the water the winds died down, and as sunset approached we knew we were in for a treat.  Our paddles whispered as they entered the water, the dragonflies were dancing over the surface, and we could glide over the lily pads in quiet.  I would fish, then stop and photograph.  I’d then put my camera away convinced that the sunset couldn’t get any better, only to pull it back out again.  It was a wonderful way to end the day –  the quiet of the lake and a mess of sunfish and crappies.  And when this morning dawned with quiet and calm too, I headed out early on my bicycle for a quick ride.  Like last night there was a great magic in the early hours.  The birds were awakening, there was little traffic, the wildflowers were blooming by the sides of the road, and my bike tires sailed smoothly across the pavement.  These truly are the “magic hours” and they make me appreciate all that is wonderful about this time and this place.

Across the state of Kansas

We’ve just returned from our bicycling trip across the state of Kansas.  In eight days we rode our bikes from the western border of Kansas and Colorado to the eastern border with Missouri.  Along with our 800 friends on the Biking Across Kansas (www.bak.org) trip, we were up to the challenges that Mother Nature dealt to us, along with the not-so-flat countryside of northern Kansas.  The 500+ mile trip was a test of our stamina as we battled the winds that blew incessantly almost every day on our trip; from the 40 mph headwind we encountered north of Oakley to the 25 mph side winds near the Colorado border.  Smiles broke out whenever the winds were blowing favorably at our backs.  We biked through the summer heat in the 90’s, were refreshed by the cooler mornings in the higher elevations of western Kansas, were “evacuated” from our tents when a severe thunder and rainstorm was bearing down on us one evening, and we appreciated the cloud cover that kept us cooler on one of our longer days.  We enjoyed the golden sunshine that caused the acres of wheat fields to glow, and we watched as they marched across the horizon as the wind blew through the fields.  We rode through the small towns that grace the rural landscape across Kansas, both the thriving towns and those that are barely getting by.  The people along the route welcomed us with open arms, excited to share their stories, their history, and their pride in their towns.  The community of riders renewed friendships and formed new ones.  We laughed after we rode through a dust storm that caused our faces and skin to turn brown as the dust clung to our sweat and sunscreen.  We swore at the early hills that grace “flat” Kansas, yet we learned to challenge those hills — to ride with abandon on the downhill side, and know that once you climbed the uphill ahead you’d probably find yet another set of hills on the vista before you.  It was a wonderful week of learning new things about myself and about my original home state of Kansas.