Spring continues to, er,

Spring continues to, er, spring in Chester County, in all its chilly, wet, muddy splendor. The Wyeths love to paint this area — the starker, muddier, and more ramshackle, the better. In another couple of weeks, though, the grass will be up, the trees will be bursting with fragrant verdure, and the number of West Chester University students running down High street in cutoff Abercrombie and Fitch shirts, sweating off their winter beer guts, will have more than trebled.

Kate and I raked up all the leaves that had blown onto the lawn over the winter and mulched the front beds. Mulch is a wonderful thing, a panacea for all ills. After twenty minutes of spreading it carefully around the bushes and the daffodils, you can stand back and admire a patch of ground that suddenly looks professional: you know, like a dentist’s office or something. I’m being completely serious: I love the way mulched beds look. I’d better watch out, or before you know it I’m going to own a two-stroke string trimmer and be edging the beds with a pair of sharp scissors. Funny how all those god-awful activities — weeding, edging, placing little garden gnomes — become suddenly fresh and alluring when it’s your patch of ground.

For a break, we took a walk on the Chester Valley Trail, a rails-to-trails project that will eventually connect Downingtown’s Struble Trail (about 5 miles west of us) all the way to Philly (about 20 miles east of us.) It’s pictured, somewhat Wyeth-ily, at right. Only about one and a half miles have been paved, but we got an early-adopter thrill in searching out the likely spot for the trailhead on a Russian satellite photo, plotting the coordinates into the GPS, then bushwhacking until we found it. The fact that there were several other couples on mountain bikes, plus two park rangers in a green SUV, only damped my thrill of discovery somewhat. Hell, I can get lost in my back yard, so I suppose it’s easy for me to get my Stanley Livingstone jollies.

I hear from Kate that, in Seattle, many folks use the rails-to-trails parks to commute. After reading the RTT press release for the Chester Valley trail, I understand that’s one of the purposes of this trail system. Philly is about 20 miles, as the crow flies, and the trail runs fairly straight — first along 202, then along the Schuykill river — so I don’t think it will add too much to the mileage. If and when I get a job in Philly (note to co-workers: sometime in the medium-to-distant future) , I wonder if it would be feasible to commute on a bike. Will I have to become super-hard-core, or only mild-core?

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