2015 BTUSFMS #6 – Science and Poetry

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July 6, 2015

Yesterday we finished our five-day ride from Minneapolis to Fargo, ND. Today, we had a rest and service day before heading west across the great Dakota plains. I think the group was universally sorry to bid Minnesota good-bye. We’ve had moderate distances over easy terrain, great weather, and amazing hospitality. Yesterday we rode 60 miles with a tailwind almost the whole way. Thank you, Minnesota!

It has been particularly poignant and rewarding for me to ride through this part of the heartland, being my home state and the location for a significant portion of my family’s history. On the road by 6:15 each morning, I’ve delighted in the quiet hum of my tires on the road, the lyrical trills of the abundant songbirds, and the graceful undulations and green-swathed curves of the Minnesota farmland and lake district.

One morning I found myself thinking of the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, “God’s World”:

Oh Lord, I fear thou’st made the world
Too beautiful this year,
My soul is all but out of me…

Another time it was Walt Whitman’s voice that came to me, from “Song of the Open Road”:

Allons! Whoever you are, come travel with me!
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell…

But more than just poetic musings, these rides have been science lessons as well. One of my BTUSFMS teammates, Mark Francek, is an earth science professor at Central Michigan University. As we’ve ridden through the countryside, Mark has explained how these graceful curves were formed by the Ice Age glaciers millions of years ago. This landscape has a name—kame and kettle topography—and shows not only where the glaciers were, but how and where the ice blocks melted as the glaciers receded.

These five days have reminded me that we sometimes become so used to our view of the world that we forget there are other, countless, perspectives. Experiencing the world, even for a moment, with another person’s eyes is a gift, a window, an invitation to come travel the ever widening open road…

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