Sunday, June 17, 2012

Last Biking Post - I swear!

Chinaberry Tree along Dismal Swamp Canal Bike Trail - Melia azedarach var. umbraculifera
I had to share this photo, taken while biking on the Dismal Swamp Canal Bike Trail.  It looked like a chinese wisteria, only it was a tree.  Turns out it is a  Chinaberry tree in bloom.  And I had to track down my friend, Marie Butler, horticulturist at the VA zoo to help me with the ID.  Even she was momentarily stumped.  It is simply beeeeautiful along the trail.

Incidentally, as a fruit fanatic, I also have to report that I've been astounded at the edible riches in the Dismal Swamp, at least out here along the canal.  Growing wild.... blueberries, blackberries, mulberries, paw paws, wild cherry, sassafras, lots of edible herbs and flowers..... berries on dogwood, sumac - it's truly amazing.  This is a fine, fine place for wildlife.  It probably was a wonderful place to be a settler or a native Indian back in the early and earlier days. Might have been miserable weather and bug-wise, but no reason to starve.  Especially if you count all the animals..... so far I've come across not only a wealth of snakes but also raccoon, squirrel, BEAR (yes, a bear!), a bevy of geese with young uns and a mama turkey with a parade of little turk-lettes tripping across the path.

I am profoundly grateful for this entire Great Bike Tour fund-raising endeavor - not only have my friends and generous online fig fanatics raised over $3,000 dollars for the support of the San Mar children's home in Boonsboro MD, but I have been impelled and compelled to spend hours of every week out on my lime green bicycle building up stamina for the 200 mile ride.  And since the ride is, essentially, Off Road on a gravel/dirt/sand canal path, I've been training at the Great Dismal Swamp (which is paved, actually) but also through Bay Back and False Cape wildlife refuges.  In short, from May through June, I've spent my days in the most beautiful places in Hampton Roads.

And, amazingly enough, not only in the most beautiful places but while enjoying the most fabulous weather of any spring I can recall.  Even today, June 17th, I was riding Back Bay/False Cape in long sleeves and without a "bug" in sight.  It doesn't get any better than this.  The weather will be changing this coming week but I can still only feel grateful for the reprieve I was given for the last 4 months.

Three weeks to the Big Tour....... Whoooo hoooooo!

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The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.