Descriptions of autumn

The High Line Trail is a lovely place. I set out at 1130, and the day was even lovelier; it combined all the best aspects of summer—the bright sun and the painfully blue sky, the extremely green grass—and all the best aspects of autumn—the brilliant yellow cottonwoods and ashes, and the relative cool for noon. The trail is a stripe of green winding through the city, with leaves scattered on the trail and the water of the canal, and leafy shadows from the bright trees that overhang. Today had been the kind of day that makes me want to sit on a wide lawn by a wood eating cherry ice, and get up later to play frisbee. I even saw two magpies (for joy, you may recall) sitting picturesquely on a fence by a purple field of some kind of wild rye.

Even more delightfully, during the first leg of my journey I passed an old couple riding in pony-drawn chariots, the sort I imagine hobbits would go to war in. The woman smiled cheerily as I passed, and the man had an awful little mustache reminiscent of Salvador Dalí. I am still awfully fond of them.

But, Best Beloved, a two-hour bicycle ride is an excellent way to work up an appetite! I leave you to picture the rest of the day, very fast sinusoidal caterpillars and all, because I’m going to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich and drink iced tea. Cheers!


I live in an apartment complex about half a kilometer from the Platte River, and as Colorado is famously outdoorsy there is an extensive network of bicycle and jogging trails. Quite naturally, there is one along the Platte. It seems extraordinary to me that the city should have spent so much money and effort creating such a place, but the culture of Denver and environs is very much conducive to projects of this type. The Platte trail is a lovely park with many shade trees, the delightful scummy smell peculiar to small rivers, and sunny cottonwood seeds drifting through the air.

Moreover, we passed perhaps hundreds of bicyclists in the ten miles we rode: professionals with slim thighs and advertisement-plastered shirts, the slow but game elderly, whole families matching their pace to young children, and several amputees (one of whom was performing the very exciting feat of bicycling quite fast without legs). Along the trail were gardens, bridges, highway crossings, and several signs for cafés (we are planning this weekend to visit Lucile’s Creole Breakfast Restaurant). At Nixon’s Coffee House, a mere mile from our apartment, several dozen bicyclists sat with their tiny water bottles (sometimes several apiece) and tiny saddle bags, chatting and cooling off over iced coffee.

What really struck me was that here there is a significant, cohesive bicycling culture. I think it does owe largely to Colorado’s cultural tendency to view outdoor activities as preferable, partially owing to its tourism industry, and this in turn is because of its preponderance of mountains and other sorts of gorgeous scenery. I believe it is different in this way from Utah, which suffers from a sad dichotomy: wherever there are great populated areas, there is much less exciting wilderness, and wherever the exciting wilderness is (the south) no settlements are anywhere nearby. Utah’s wilderness is inhospitable, but in Colorado it has been carefully preserved as it was settled. Here, it seems that people make more of an effort to enjoy and be part of nature. In Utah it is a pastime, but here it is just life.