On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt VIII)


The cool thing about riding the Tour de Dixmont?  All the people who wave.  Cindy the mail lady.  The guys in the dump trucks going from the gravel pit across the North Road to wherever.  The guys putting metal roofing on a farmhouse on the North Road.  The man in North Dixmont mowing his lawn.  The guys building the wheelchair ramp on my neighbor’s house.  The man driving the Peacemeal Farms truck.  They’re used to me, I think, seeing me nearly every day in good weather, slogging my way around (top downhill speed today 42.2 mph).  I’m a fixture.  A pet bike rider.  Which is okay.  In fact, it’s rather cheering.

Day after tomorrow is the MS 150:  my 13th.  That’s why I’m a fixture, riding around here.  As I told Cindy the mail lady this morning, after all this pedaling, I think I’ll be able to do it again.  Which might be why the song in my head this morning is “Rise Above” by the Oysterband.  It’s rather an affirming song–and it sets a good pedaling cadence.  And the end is beautiful.


Here you go.

On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt VII)



This morning, when I got up, the road was wet, but the sun was out here at Sunny Corner…so I thought I was safe.  I made it halfway on my chosen route this morning before I rode right into the rain.  Not a hard rain–not so much as a shower–but with bigger drops than a mist.  They slapped on the tar, they slapped on my glasses, they slapped on my helmet.  All in a half-hearted sort of way.  And at my maximum downhill speed today, 43.8 mph, those raindrops drove like little nails into my skin.

Perhaps, then it was apropos that the song in my head was “Let Her Run” from Bellowhead’s new CD Revival.  Because I was running hard:  there are only a couple more riding days until this year’s MS 150, and if I put in the work now, this coming Saturday and Sunday will be the proverbial walk in the park.  Or ride, if you will

Here you go:

On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt VI)

bikeOnly six more days until the MS 150, and the good news is that there was a surprising lack of carnage on the Tour de Dixmont this morning:  no dead animals anywhere.  It was another beautiful morning to head for the hills, as it were, and thanks to the way-cool tech at Pat’s Bike Shop in Brewer, who fixed my computer yesterday, I could once again keep track of things, like my maximum downhill speed (38.3 mph) and my average speed (14.1 mph).  For the most part, the computer’s just for amusement–except in the real ride, when it’s useful for reading course cue sheets:  left turn onto X road after 4.7 miles, for example, or my personal favorite, rest stop 9.6 miles.

In any case, because of FB friend Astrid, I almost ended up with “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone”–or God forbid, its bastard cousin “On the Cover of the Music City News”–in my head on the way out.  Somehow, though, the song today ended up being “Mustang Sally” (might just have been the yellow convertible Mustang that passed me on the road)–the version from The Commitments.


Here you go:


On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt V)



With only eight days left until this year’s MS 150, I’ve been riding like a crazy person.  Must be strong!  Must be tough!  At least tough enough to make it through another Tour de Dixmont.  And apparently, carnage reigns in this burgh:  on the road today I saw two dead birds, two dead squirrels, a dead mouse, a dead mole, a dead porcupine, and a dead rat.  All within 20 miles!  We’re all moving targets here, I’m afraid.

Today’s song in my head was almost Proclaimers_500miles_map.png.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeapropos:  “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers.  Granted, I wasn’t walking.  Granted, I didn’t ride 500 miles, though I’ve ridden more than that since school got out.  But it’s a marching song, and by golly, it’ll make those legs work.

Here you go:

On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt IV)



Today was a half Tour de Dixmont, as I had to take the car to the shop for brakes.  Ack.  I showed up in my bike clothes and hefted the ol’ Trek off the carrier, and when the car guy asked “Do you need a ride home?” he answered himself.  “No, you don’t.”

Nope.  Got it covered.

So this morning the song in my head was “Drive My Car,” of course, by the Beatles, from Rubber Soul.  Why not be topical?  That’s where my head is at, after all.

So here you go.

On Songs to Bike to 101 (pt III)



Sunday and Monday were rainy mornings–torrential rainy mornings.  This morning dawned bright and cool and windy, with crazy clouds scudding across a deep blue sky.  I made really good time:  it was perfect riding weather.


The song this morning, as I became aware of it at Simpson’s Corner on the Tour de Dixmont, was “Spirit of Dust” from Oysterband’s newest CD, Diamonds on the Water.  I have two versions of it on my iPod–a live version they performed on a radio show before the CD’s release, and the one on the CD itself.  It was the latter playing in my head, especially the ending, with John Jones and Rowan Godel playing off each other’s voices, and Alan Prosser’s counterpoint behind them both.

Here you go:

On Songs to Bike To 101 (pt. II)

bikeSometimes it’s a slower riding day, and the music that accompanies me in my head is slower, too.  And that’s okay.  Today’s song was “Friday Town” by the Saw Doctors–especially the intro by Leo Moran on his gorgeous white Gretsch.  Added bonus:  today is Friday.  Second added bonus:  in the video, Leo rides a bike.

Here you go.

On Songs to Bike To 101

Of course I don’t ride with earphones–that’s dangerous, if you can’t hear the traffic coming.  But of course, there’s always something playing in my head, and for biking, it’s a song that picks up the cadence of the pedaling.

Today I was feeling pretty sprightly on the Tour de Dixmont.  The song in my head was by Bellowhead:  “Roll the Woodpile Down.”  Especially that oboe.

Here you go.



On The Poetry Fence


acton scott image

At Acton Scott Museum and Working Farm, in Shropshire in the UK, the Poet in Residence this past year was Jean Atkin.

Jean Atkin

Jean Atkin

She led groups–many of them children–to meet the farm in poetry, and chronicled her adventures here.

One of her initiatives was The Poetry Fence, for which she solicited short pieces which evoked the farm–Acton Scott, another farm in Shropshire, another farm in the world.  At the behest of the expat poet Jenny Doughty, I submitted a short piece, which Jean was kind enough to include on the fence.

So.  A part of me on a fence on a farm in Shropshire.

Acton Scott Farm

Acton Scott Farm

There’s something symbolic there.

On Year 4: May’s Poems

spring flowers

The homestretch, the final month of the school year.  It’s been wet and squelchy, unsettled, cold.  The kids have been antsy and bad-tempered.  I’ve tried to give them poems that provided something warm and uplifting.  I’m not sure I was always successful–and quite frankly, this has been a year where the students have been really hard to reach.  But still:  we try.  And try some more.


May 1st, Thursday: “Afterwards” by Thomas Hardy (because the poet Jenny Doughty suggested it)

May 2nd, Friday: “May” by Jonathan Galassi

May 5th, Monday: “Spell” by May Lewis

May 6th, Tuesday: “The Snake” by William Matthews

May 7th, Wednesday: “To Daffodils” by Robert Herrick

linda pastan

Linda Pastan

May 8th, Thursday: “Song in a Minor Key” by Dorothy Parker

May 9th, Friday: “The Figure on the Hill” by Jeffrey Harrison

May 12th, Monday: “My Dog Practices Geometry” by Cathryn Essinger

May 13th, Tuesday: “The Pasture” by Robert Frost

May 14th, Wednesday: “Spring” by Linda Pastan

May 15th, Thursday: “By the Front Door” by W. S. Merwin

May 16th, Friday: “I Dwell in Possibility–” (#466) by Emily Dickinson

May 19th, Monday: “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman

Donald Hall & Jane Kenyon

Donald Hall & Jane Kenyon

May 20th, Tuesday: “Heavy Summer Rain” by Jane Kenyon

May 21st, Wednesday: “Vita Nova” by Louise Glück

May 22nd, Thursday: “The Long Voyage” by Malcolm Cowley

May 23rd, Friday: “The Morning Porches” by Donald Hall

May 26th, Monday:  Memorial Day–no school

May 27th, Tuesday: “How to Regain Your Soul” by William Stafford


Maya Angelou

May 28th, Wednesday: “Limen” by Natasha Trethewey

May 29th, Thursday: “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou (because of her greatness:  that is all I can say)

May 30th, Friday: “Silver-Lined Heart” by Taylor Mali (because this is the poem is the one I always read on the final senior day)

And so ends the school year, and the fourth year of this poem-reading adventure.  The most pleasurable part of this four years is that the poem-a-day has become, truly, part of our classroom culture.  All because of a stray remark someone made at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching all those years ago.  Thanks to whoever made that remark.




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