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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
2005 Metro Grand Spring Tour,
Kindness brings Architectual Rewards

The Downriver Cycling Club holds what I consider to be the first real ride of spring (of course the AABTS has Saturday morning rides year-round, and I'm sorry to say without the spur of training for Vietnam I've yet to make one this year.) I like the Metro Grand Spring Tour because I have old memories of it—I think the wizard and I did it before we married, for example—and because the redbud are in bloom during the ride. Spring is my favorite season, never more so when so many trees are in bloom: dogwood, cherry, crabapple, redbud, and this year I've particularly been noticing the bradford pear.

the 25 mi route we took was from one metropark to another, and we ate facing Lake Erie, glinting beautifully in the sun. (And I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to lighten up the grass, which basically looked black in the original. Unfortunately, the ‘glints’ appeared to have gotten gimped right out, either from fooling with the color profiles or scaling the image down.)

Last year the weather was wet and cold; this year, despite the threat of rain, it was sunny and breezy: in fact, we had a tailwind pushing us to breakfast, which is ‘Chriscakes’ —the cooks flip the pancakes onto your plate (occasionally the floor) if they're not too backed up. There's sausage too, coffee and OJ, and even Sylvus the butter snob found the country crock delicious.

Of course, this meant we had a headwind on the way back. Most of us had “trained” for this ride with perhaps a 3 mile ride the day before, the exception being the wizard, who has been bike-commuting for the last year, making it possible for us to downsize (yippee!) to a one car household. So he offered to take over trailer duty for another member in our party, which meant he wasn't really available to go help out a cyclist who'd fallen. So he deputized me: “You have a cell phone, go over there and see if they need to use it.”


I had of course noticed a cyclist was down, but couldn't really see how I could be of any earthly use, and was therefore disinclined to help. As it turns out the woman didn't need a cell phone, but she was happy to send me off to the nearest SAG for (automotive) transport, and when my efforts proved unsatisfactory, my willingness to hang around made her companion comfortable enough to go urge the SAG himself to the desired action.

So as it happens, I did nothing but a little riding, conversation and sympathy, efforts that could've been contributed by any cyclist: the gift of time and empathy is something we all have, only at what ought to be only a small cost, the fear of rejection. So simple, surely! I do not like to think I am a particularly selfish person, but the truth of the matter is that one of the great gifts of my marriage has been the exposure to, and efforts to emulate, my spouse's empathy and generosity, which has probably contributed more to my ‘personal growth’ (ack, what a phrase) than just about anything else I've done.

(Oh, and what about that poor cyclist? Well, her wheel caught in a crack in the pavement, which sent her sprawling: this is just one reason why we don't like to ride to close to the shoulder of the road. Her knee was bunged up and her face scraped, but she appeared to be otherwise okay—hurray for helmets, which probably prevented a concussion. I would like to claim that cycling is a perfectly safe sport, but it isn't...though it's worth keeping in mind the accidents—that I've seen over the years, anyway—generally don't compare to the trouble you can get yourself into driving a car.)

Kindness, they say, is its own reward. This was certainly true in my case. After the SAGs showed up, and my presence was truly superfluous, I was well behind the rest of my party, so I could ride at my own pace (faster) and stop whenever I wanted to. So I got 4 fun shots of houses, instead of the one I'd asked for on the way out (this route backtracked to the starting point.)

This house has evidently been refitted into a wedding chapel. I liked the lacy trim, reminescent of certain cake decorating effects.


Here's a closeup of the woodwork. I have many pix in my files of such interesting trim details, which are a hallmark of Washtenaw architecture. This, I guess, is the start of showing some of them; I hope to have a nice library built up some day.


The house that originally excited my attention. Its design and massing is typical of the many small towns (I think we were in Flat Rock, at this point) established in the mid 1800s.


Though the house itself needs a bit of restoration, this is the detail that particularly excited my attention: I'd never seen this particular pattern, sort of a cruciform fleur-de-lis.


Again, a cute little cottage with one detail I particularly liked. (Originally when creating this page I thought about posting the details full-size, and linking them to a 512 pixel image of the entire structure, but decided the default structure typical of my pages good enough.)


I've seen a number of eyebrow dormers, but not with the full half-circle opening—usually there's just a bit of a circular segment. Very nice detail, perfect for that drawing of a hobbit house, no?


File originally created 02may05


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