Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 8: Attention

Trumpet flowers are in bloom - blood orange flutes jutting out up and down the many trees they've entwined. Silk trees are blooming, too, and crepe myrtles. Non-natives call attention to themselves: invasives and, in the case of the myrtles, ornamentals. Back when I first bike commuted, along the greenways of North Raleigh, I focused on the native species, and took notes: when the bluets bloomed (it's now too late for them), and when the tickseed sunflower (too soon). Here, in this urban setting, while the big trees are native, the understory and and herbaceous flora are dominated by alien species. I hope to plant a native garden behind my house, and I encourage my neighbors to do likewise.

Certain native fauna, on the other hand, have drawn our attention. We spied a second fox this weekend, smaller than the first fox we saw. This was in the adjacent neighborhood of Lakewood, but still less than half a mile from home. Jen, my fiancee, pointed out that the vacant Army Reserve base that sits along the Morehead Hill - Lakewood border provides potential den sites, as does the wooded border of the creek below Carroll Street. So, even if the abandoned house across the street is re-occupied (and Durham Water & Sewer was up to something there yesterday), our local vulpine population may stand a chance, as might our tomatoes, threatened as they are by rabbits.

Attention must be paid to see the Wheel of the Year enacted in an urban setting, to discover the geography and culture of place, to know one's home. I bike in the morning half asleep; I come home in the evening anxious to get out of the heat. I need to remember to look. I need to read the history of Durham. I need to remove the English ivy from a hackberry tree, and the elm branch that threatens my roof. I should have noticed the bag of water bottles I left on our kitchen floor from when we were still painting, which now, having leaked, created a mold spot on our hardwoods that we must clean, and sand, and refinish.

Biking does help one pay attention. Of course there's the whole being-out-in-the-elements aspect, but even more important, perhaps, is the rise in energy, the waking up that comes along the way. I may start out half asleep, but by the time I reach the gym that's down to about a quarter, and if I have the time to work out before going to work, then I arrive, as I did today, fully awake.

And that seems to last all day.

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