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03/17/2013: "Jasmine and Song"
I've felt the first whiffs of jasmine as I ride through Los Angeles, an impossibly joyous scent that fills the streets with sweetness every spring. Even a small scattering of the tiny white flowers on a hedge in a side yard can cleanse your soul of every irritation or sorrow for at least a few seconds, and once the season is full, bands of perfume cross your path several times a block wherever there is jasmine.

The motorheads in their boxes miss it; it's a gift for us and the walkers.

Likewise the mockingbirds, who have commenced their singing in the last week or so. Their song is powerful, melodic, and ever-varying; they have no set call but imitate other birds (or even mechanical sounds if they have a definite pitch), and they mix all the snippets of melody they have picked up in their lives in actually skillful compositions that I at least can listen to for hours. At the last Velo-Retro ride, a fellow who visits LA from Wisconsin now and then remembered last year and asked if he could expect to hear the birs again; he was too early by a week.

Again, it's a gift for us and the walkers—assuming we aren't cramming our ears with canned music through earbud or headphone. A mockingbird's song is a kind of natural jazz, tonal and improvised, and often with an air of minor-key mystery.

A ride is never just a ride at this time of year!

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