Sunday, April 15, 2012

Creating Spring Colors

And then it was spring!

"That sure doesn't look like spring," you may say, "look at all those bare trees!"  I took this photo in Housatonic -- an old mill town in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.  I was out there on business and brought my bike along with me for a brisk afternoon ride.

How about this photo then?

That's a dam along the Housatonic River, the town's namesake.  I rode along the river for a number of miles as I made my way back to my car in Lenox, Mass.  Still not very spring-like, you say?

Here's another one, again from Housatonic:

O.K, now I'm having fun!  But only a little, because there's something about a bicycle that changes the whole way we look at spring.

Early spring in New England does have a black-and-white quality to it.  It's a kind of quiet interlude between the dark days of winter and the burst color that is yet to come.  But we cyclists love it.  We love it on an impossible-to-explain elemental level, as if the very first bicycle ever created was forged in some dark furnace deep in the hills on a cold April morning, and we're just now reconnecting with our beginnings.

Maybe it has something to do with the simple aesthetics of it all, the image of a bicycle -- a streak of bright color -- set against a monochrome background.  Or maybe it's the idea of the epic ride, the thing all serious cyclists strive for.  Cycling through a grey landscape, I feel like I'm adding my own color to those trees with every pedal stroke.

The pros have the early-spring bug too.  Just think about the great March/April races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, winding their way through old WWI battlefields.  Those races would loose their soul if they were held in summer.  You need that film of grey hanging over it all, reminding us that a bike race is a beautiful, peaceful thing in itself.

Even when those racers ride on cobblestone through green fields, it still has a wonderfully bleak feel to it.  Cleaning my apartment the other day, I came across an unfinished watercolor I painted of those cobbles:

Pretty lonely, right?  But we cyclists would like nothing better than to ride that road and make the unfinished painting a masterpiece.

So getting back to Housatonic...

Across the street from the local post office...

... the townspeople have put up a mural:

It's green and cheery, and it reflects the creative spirit that is so strong in the Berkshires.  Very cool!  But on that particular afternoon, I was just as happy to enjoy the pleasant shades of grey.


  1. I too like early spring. For me it evokes riding without worrying about my feet getting cold, listening to the birds, looking for the migration of geese, and not having to out-ride mosquitoes. Welcome back to the blogosphere.

  2. I feel the same about cycling in early spring. For me it is just the best of the seasons closely followed by the autumn...


  3. I agree. Autumn is an amazing time here in New England too. Thanks!

  4. Hi Jason,
    So good to see you back on the blog. That second photo should be the cover art for the song "Water Tower Town." Returning home this morning I just heard the song on the radio, then checked my blogs and there's your perfect photo!

    1. Thanks Leah! I don't know that song, but I'll try to find it!