Many years ago I bought Kate Carter's 'Wildflowers of Vermont.' I learned about the most common Vermont wildflowers. This year I decided to photograph flowers as they appeared and post the pictures on Facebook. The first flower of the season was Coltsfoot, which I found by the side of the road in Essex. This was during my first long ride of the the spring. I had seen some cultivated flowers in bloom, but that was my first wild flower. A week later I found a blue flower next to the Burlington bike path, but I was not able to identify it.
On the 28th of April I rode out to Essex Center and then headed up Chapin Road. A guy named Brian caught up with me and as we rode along together we talked about riding on dirt roads, some of my posts, bike commuting, the dangers posed by aggressive drivers and a mutual friend. I mentioned that I was photographing flowers but had not been able to identify one of them. He told me that his wife owned Full Circle Nursery on Brigham Hill Road and that she might be able to help me. As it happened, I was planning to ride on that road. We parted ways at the end of Chapin Road. I took a break and headed down Rollin Irish Road. Earlier in the week I learned that the road was named after my postman's father. My postman's name is William Irish. On Duffy Road, which turns into Brigham Hill Road I found and photographed my second wildflower of the season, Marsh Marigold. Like Coltsfoot, it grows in marshy environs. After climbing Brigham Hill, I headed back toward Old Stage Road. When I got to Full Circle Nursery I stopped and met Sarah, the owner. I told her about meeting her husband and showed her the photo of the blue flower. She told me it was Scilla, a domesticated flower that sometimes runs wild. Just as I was leaving, Brian returned, and I told him that his wife had been very helpful.
As I bicycled home, I thought about how lucky I am to ride in Vermont. There is sense of community among bike riders, that made it feel natural for Brian to catch up with me and for us to ride together. The dirt road, with very little traffic, meant that we could ride side by side and talk, and discover that we had mutual friends and Internet connections. Because of this friendliness I did not feel uncomfortable going into the nursery and asking about the flower.
The kind of community I felt that day is what Local Motion is all about. Working toward infrastructure and legal changes is very important, but so is the pleasure we take in each other's company, and the joy we experience in riding through the Vermont countryside.