Roses and Toast

Cycling back into town after an eventful spin along the muddy Chilkat River this morning all I smelled were roses and toast. The wild roses are doing much better with the cool gray weather than my geraniums, and when it is only 50 and nearly July, the campers in the RVs make a lot of toast. There is comfort in everything about toast. Sure, a person should stop and smell the roses, but you can eat toast.

Speaking of eating, and the aroma of the season, Lyle has been smoking the beef briskets in the big black cooker on wheels in the fire hall parking lot for two days and that's making me hungry for the annual community barbecue which kicks off the 4th of July week of festivities on Saturday from 11-2. Also, and this has nothing to do with toast but may concern beach roses, tonight at 6 in the Chilkat Center the engineers will share conceptual drawings of the second phase of the harbor project; the designs for the parking lot and boat ramps, and either keeping or moving Lookout Park. The Planning Commission will meet and make a recommendation afterwards at 8.

I am unsettled due to the recent bear attacks in other parts of the state, including on cyclists, the amount of bear sign on all the roads and especially the news that the bears may be more testy because they too are unsettled by something they can't quite identify. Everything is late, or less, or both- fish, berries, summer-- so now I'm carrying bear spray on the bike, although I didn't even think to reach for it in this morning's stunning, weird, and really fast wildlife encounter.

(This is where Chip will say, "It's only a squirrel" and where I reply, "remember Monty Python's 'it's only a rabbit' ?")  

I saw the squirrel on the shoulder, but assumed, like several previously timid squirrels, that it would pivot and sprint for the tall grass. Instead it spun toward the road and Chip's on-coming wheel. I was tucked close behind him, drafting in a strong headwind. On one side there could be a loaded gravel truck heading to the harbor or airport, and on the other side the rough shoulder dropped sharply into swampy grass. With no safe exit and no time to stop, I closed one eye, held on tight to my course, and waited for the thump and squish. At least I knew what was coming. Chip didn't see the squirrel leap up to avoid being run over. He didn't even flinch when the squirrel landed on his calf, took a hop up his leg, spun a back flip off his hip and sailed right over my head, landing, I hope, on all fours in the grass.

"Did it bite you?" I yelled, as he kept pedaling.
Chip continued on toward town at 18 mph or so, while I talked a mile a minute behind him. Breathless.  "Wow!" (pedal pedal) " That was crazy!" (pedal pedal) " Are you okay?" (pedal pedal) " What if it's rabid?" (pedal pedal) "Do you think it's okay? " (pedal pedal) "Shall we check?" (pedal pedal) "Hey---can you hear me?"

"I'm sure glad I had the bear spray."

(pedal pedal pedal) "If it makes you feel safer."

"It does!"

Well, sort of. Bear spray, helmets, lights, and bells do help me feel safer, though sometimes I wonder if they cause more worry by reminding me of the infinite possibilities for disaster. Which is why I was glad to hear the safety report on KHNS when we got home, and that Lyle took a minute out from the brisket smoking to give his weekly talk, even during the fundraiser (donate now), because those guys and gals  from the fire and ambulance crews are the masters of imagining the worst case scenario, and because they do, they have trained us not to swerve.

I'm so grateful.

I know, it was only a squirrel. But I also know that the roses and toast smelled that much sweeter this morning because of it.






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