Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Summer comes to Durham

Although it seems like only a few weeks ago it was 40F and we were feeling chilly, we've had high temperatures above 90F for the past few days and it doesn't exactly feel like spring. Instead, it feels like we've been catapulted into full-on summer. I know that some of you will say that I'm weak after living in San Francisco for four years, and while that is in general a fair criticism, it has already been  up to 97F this week, and that is hot by pretty much any standard. To make the most of this new warmth (or, to survive in this burning hellscape, as Lynn has been calling it), I've been doing a few things.

Bicycling: Riding in Durham is the full experience of road biking. There are busy urban streets with lots of people and cars, protected multi-use paths for pedestrians and cyclists, and long stretches of rural roads with varying degrees of shoulder for safety. I've enjoyed exploring since we moved, although definitely overestimated my capacity to bike in the heat...

Essentials any bike ride... I highly recommend the goddess garden which has a lovely lavender sent and is extremely gentle. The others are great for the body, but leave my face feeling chemically burned...

I'm too far out from my kindergarten days of encylopedic dinosaur knowledge to determine whether this is a brontosaurus, diplodocus, or apatosaurus. Apparently we've all agreed that all three of these actually exist now, in case you missed the dust-up over whether being a brontosaurus was really a thing...

I've biked portions of the American Tobacco Trail, a rails-to-trails conversion that boasts many miles of beautiful (and relatively flat) cycling, the South Ellerbe Creek Trail, which is most notable for having a large dinosaur statue nestled into the trees next to the trail, and the Stadium Drive Trail, which is actually a glorified sidewalk that is great for safe walking and cycling away from cars for beginning cyclists or children, but is not really ideal for a road bike over about 8 mph.

Enjoying our backyard: "Yard" should really be in quotation marks there, as we don't have much grass at all. That said, "enjoying our backyard morass of sand and gravel" doesn't have the same ring to it. Since getting our fence installed, we've loved letting Cyril run around unencumbered by the stresses of other animals, cars, and similar distractions that are profoundly distressing to our tiny, sweet dog. The things we have taken out of the backyard in order to improve it's function and appearance include:
  • One third of a phone pole
  • An old fence post which was sunk into concrete but not attached to anything else
  • Several dump-runs worth of cement chunks, broken bricks, and large rocks
  • Five garbage bags filled with poison ivy
That's right, the ground cover that was flourishing that I may have mentioned to some of you was actually just poison ivy. We suspected that there was some after Lynn got a rash, and it was confirmed when our amazing neighbor who installed the fence informed us that our entire yard consisted of poison plants and that he would recommend treating the entire area with herbicide. We may yet use chemicals to kill the remaining plants, but opted for mechanical removal of most of them. 

The before... You can see the green patch in the back near the fence, and you'll have to trust me that it's ALL poison ivy...

 The offending plant itself. You can appreciate how lush and three-leaved it is. 

Rainboots - check, Tyvek suit - check, garden gloves - check, innate immunity to poison ivy - check. That's right, despite walking around in it unawares in my sandals, I have remained unaffected. I also accidentally brushed some of it onto my face during removal, and emerged unscathed.

Cy enjoying the one small patch of non-poison ivy (notably, it's clover, not grass) in the yard. 

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