The Artist Date is a dream-child of Julia Cameron. We’ve discussed her book, The Artist’s Way, and highly recommend both the book and the weekly date. It can be life-changing. It can open your creativity like nothing else. This week, we’re riding a Rockhopper.
Wild-caught Alaskan cod is five bucks a pound, today only, so I ride my Specialized Rockhopper two and a half miles to Safeway, downhill all the way. I’m glad I bought the new bike seat last summer—some splurges are worth it.
I pass the green street signs and wonder who named them, and why. Silent Rain. Sweetwater. Loco Pony. Especially perplexing is White Buffalo. Who ever sees white buffalo? And then I come to the intersection of White Buffalo and Pale Moon. Aha.
At the corner of Rockrimmon and Flying W Ranch Road, I watch a mountain biker pass me and go up these impossibly steep rocks to Ute Valley Park, a popular spot for advanced mountain bikers. But since I consider going up a curb technically difficult, I stay on the road.
I whiz down Flying W (but here the street name changes to Vindicator—who named that?), past Owl Ridge and Bison Ridge Roads, past Eagleview Middle School. The bike lane is narrow here, and some cars pass me too closely. One comes so close I can tell its color (indigo), though I’m concentrating on the road.
At the store, I pull the U-lock from my backpack and lock my Rockhopper to the railing near the metal patio furniture where I’ve seen Safeway employees take breaks. At the seafood counter I order four pieces of fish. It comes to 1.7 pounds. My son will cook it for dinner tonight, with brown rice and a mango-macadamia-spinach salad. We’ll use the leftover dressing I made for the catering gig I had a couple of months ago. In the frozen seafood section I grab a box of applewood-maple salmon already prepared. Then I head to the bakery and pick out a loaf of jalapeño foccacia. These last two items are for the neighbors who had their baby not long after midnight. They’re calling him Sam.
Going back up Vindicator with foccacia and frozen fish in my backpack, I pedal slowly on a low gear. It’s hard biking uphill, my quadriceps tell me. The cars are still too close.
A crowd is gathered at the corner of Centennial and Vindicator. They’re pointing to the hills. What are they looking at?
As soon as I see it, the awe makes my breathing shallower, faster. Great Horned Owls in the tree across the street. They’re still to young to fly, but they are huge. Just in time for Mother’s Day, I think.
The crowd is growing. I see one tripod, two huge zoom lenses like only professional photographers use, one telescope. Two police cars are parked across the street, “Safeguarding our community as our family” printed on the sides. To protect the young owls from disrespectful gawkers, they have blocked off the area with yellow tape: Police Line Do Not Cross. I count fifteen orange cones on the road. Thirty people taking pictures.
They do captivate, those big young owls. Their tree sits against a background of blackened, bare pines on the mountain a mile behind them. The whole mountainside is black. That’s probably why the owl family nested here in the Walgreens parking lot—last summer’s wildfire burned all the trees in the wilderness.
I turn (not push) my bike pedals to go to the neighbors’, leave their food at the doorstep, and head home.
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