New bike. New adventure. I pedal across the gravel and look ahead to the smooth asphalt. I hit the pavement and I’m off. Wind in my ears. Seeing how fast I can pedal. Downhill. It’s quiet. And lovely. A few cars pass. Coreopsis. Barbed wire. Purple vetch. Cows munching on tall grass. Black hulking masses in the green. Birds overhead. On wires. Flush as I pass. A squirrel. Decides to cross the road in front of me. Too slow. Veers off and runs beside me. We are racing. I laugh. He decides to sprint and cut across in front of me. I brake. I scream. We are both OK. I pedal on. Zooming across Caney Creek. Swallows fill the air. Sweeping above the bridge. Puffs of silky down. Thistles gone to seed. Goats stare at me behind their fence. I like them. Chickens in the ditch. A momma with her babies. I startle a Great Blue Heron and it flies from a cow pond. Spanish moss and old oaks. Horses munching out of feed boxes. Old sheds. New mobile homes with shiny porch swings. Indian Paintbrushes. Boots on fence posts. Two girls on bikes going the opposite direction. We smile. They have baskets. I keep going. Everything is green. Overgrown. Crawling up the fences. Consuming them. I reach the end. The Highway ahead. I turn down 19. Cars rush by. They are loud. The road smells bad. I keep going. It’s not as pretty. Flowers and noise. Steve will be glad. I’m not having as much fun. I pass roadkill. A mangled black hog. It is ripped and twisted. I try not to look. I keep going. Headed back to my loop. Cars pass. Pickup with a ram in the back. SUV with a pink bike on the rack. EMT. Trucks, trucks, trucks. Almost there. I see a snowcone stand. Have you tried our zinger? I want to. Mental note: next time bring money. A motorcycle passes and waves at me. We are bike friends. Wheeeeeeee. Back on Wood Farm. Catalpa tree in bloom. It’s fun again. Decided to detour. Side road. Honeysuckle and milk weed. Cardinals and Mockingbirds. People out in their yards. Someone is growing corn. It is knee high in their garden. A man rides his lawn mower in tight circles around his agave plants. Funny mailbox looks like an outhouse. I turn around. Expedition with crazy rims pulls out in front of me. Bass booming. Ridiculous. Sonic cups on the roadside. Home is mostly downhill now. I pedal faster. Burned brush on the fence line. People headed home. Dogs barking. Huge ones bounding across yards. Tiny yapping ones nipping at my feet. I see my street. Turning I slow and coast downhill. Red bird catches my eye. Not a cardinal. Stop to memorize. A new one for my list. I stare for a long time. It flicks its tail back and forth. Perched on the tension wire. It’s gone now. So am I. Past the houses I pass every day. Gravel. Down my drive. And I’m home. I love my bike. I love my legs. I love my home. The dogs run out of the fence as I bring the bike in. Tails wag. Expectant looks. I turn away from home and plunge into the forest with my three furred friends.