|Cell phone cameras come in handy.|
Before triple-digit temperatures scorched our afternoons last week, my husband and I rode our bikes along the Delaware River.
We both had Monday off, and our game plan was breakfast in Lambertville, N.J., followed by a ride along the tow path that lies between the river and the canal.
The morning was lovely, though we could feel the heat rising. (Little did we know we would yearn for temperatures in the low 90s later that week.) As we pedaled out, we passed other humans lucky enough to have a Monday off: some on bikes, some on foot, some in strollers.
Almost an hour into our ride, we pulled off to explore a fork in the path, first stopping in the shade for water. That's when we heard it, an ominous hissing sound that is the bane of a bicyclist's existence: a flat tire.
My husband was a Boy Scout, and indeed, he came prepared. From the bag on my bike he pulled a new tube, tire tool and a mini pump. Better yet, he knew how to use them.
I confess I was not much help, aside from steadying the lame bike, holding miscellaneous pieces and offering moral support. I attempted to inflate the tire, to give him a break, but my less than manly upper arms proved less than helpful.
While he grappled with the tire in the shade of a linden* tree, I looked up. The view was beautiful: Sun-dappled leaves, light green and dark, with the near-noon sun flashing through the gaps. I pointed it out to him, though his appreciation may have been tempered by the sweaty job at hand.
Still, he kept his cool, admirably so. Repair complete, we decided to head back. Along the way we passed some of the same humans, but also a wonderful menagerie of wildlife: two turtles sunning themselves on opposite ends of a log in the canal; a mother duck and three fuzzy ducklings; a gathering of geese.
Whizzing along, I saw something tall and gray out of the corner of my eye. I stopped to get a better look. 'Twas a great blue heron*, standing statue-like on the canal bank about 10 feet away. I've never been so close to such a large bird in its natural habitat. As I took one slow step closer to try to take a picture, the great bird took off and glided over the canal, its 6-foot V of wingspan reflecting in the water below.
I missed the picture, but I saved the memory.
*Full disclosure: I didn't know then what tree to thank for the shade. I plucked a leaf, borrowed a book from the library and identified it. As for the bird, I knew it was either an egret or a heron. A variety of websites helped me narrow it to the great blue.