Late Saturday morning, as I packed and prepped the bike for a ride into town, sub-freezing overnight temps were rising into the mid-40s. As I set out, a chill nipped my chin, but the sunshine and exercise kept me warm. After crossing Healdsburgâ€™s Memorial Bridge and cruising down Old Redwood Highway, a left turn found me on Limerick Lane, a gently sloping winery-lined road that opens onto rolling vineyards.
At half a mile or so, the county road ends, branching into two private roads leading in opposite directions. Two old barns frame the vineyard-covered hills awash in new autumn colors. Here I hopped off my bike and unfolded the portable stool to draw amidst the wild grasses. The scent of woodsmoke drifted on a gentle breeze, along with faint, but not unpleasant, barnyard smells. I pulled out my landscape sketchbook and began to block in the larger shapes of the landscape.
Midway through drawing, I heard a loud neigh just behind me. Spinning around, I found a beautiful cream and brown spotted horse a few feet away.
My new friend made excellent company as I put the finishing touches on the painting. Then I packed up my gear and rode back toward town. With the sun now low in the west I felt the evening chill once again filling the valley. I hoped to make it home before dark, but I had miles to go before I could rest.