John Grindrod: There’s such a thing as getting a bit too close to nature

By John Grindrod - Guest Columnist

Having turned the corner on the meteorological version of Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” with the different hues of those deciduous trees’ droppings, Lady Jane and my Saturday bike rides are sadly coming to an end for another year.

Whenever I’m over at Jane’s in Mercer County, the setting is so very different from my city existence. Here, unfortunately, homes in my neighborhood are just a few feet away, I say “unfortunately,” because of the frequent nuisance barking of a pack of very boisterous canines behind a high wooden fence just a few feet away.

However, at Jane’s, in most cases, more than a football field separates one house from the next. Our 15 to 20 miles of biking is only occasionally interrupted by an occasional bark or other noise, like the passing cacophonous sounds of motorcycle devotees drawn to the Grand Lake area and its surrounding water holes.

But for the most part, our bike rides on the Franklin Township Greenway Trail and surrounding lightly traveled roads are calming as well as good exercise. Thanks to the wonders of technology, with the Pacer app on my phone, after we complete the ride, it’s always fun to check the data to see how many miles we traveled, what each mile’s pace was and how many calories we burned, among other interesting data the app provides.

However, on those windy days when the itch to hop on a bike is even stronger than the wind, we’ll load our bikes in the back of my SUV and head to the west side of the lake to ride the Celina-Coldwater Bikeway, which measures 4.61 miles one way.

The reason this asphalted path is the option when Mariah just won’t settle herself down is because most of the track is banked by trees, which tends to block the strongest gusts. However, the dense foliage on either side of the track also brings with it a slight annoyance, more grasshoppers. They remain on the asphalt until sensing our bike tires before taking their short flights.

On a recent sojourn to Coldwater on the path, I noticed quite a few of those ‘hoppers. As a matter of fact, one, I remember, sprung toward me and almost seemed to fly up my shorts leg, prompting a bit of a yikes moment.

Once in Coldwater, it was a short ride down the street to our pit stop, the beautiful Memorial Park, which includes one of Ohio’s finest high school baseball fields, the home of the multi-state-champion Cavaliers. Following our shelter house break for hydration, we headed back down the street and back onto the track to Celina to load up the bikes for the ride back to Jane’s.

After first checking the Pacer data and then an hour’s worth talk of our old days and new and looking at old vacation photos, I made the drive back to Lima. Once home, despite some fatigue, I forced myself to sit at the computer and do some type-edit work for a column.

As for my writing process, well, I’m as old school as you can get. I develop the column ideas the same way I wrote my two book manuscripts, which is free-writing longhand before it’ll be time to sit at the computer to do what I call my “SSP,” as in shaping the free-written copy, shortening what is always an abundance of words for a bigmouth like me and polishing the prose.

Finishing around 9 p.m., I then headed upstairs for my nightly ablutions and, following a shower, the climb into my leisure clothes before heading down to my man cave to have, what my father used to say, “a couple of belts” and find some football.

When I dropped my drawers, both the outer and the inner, before showering, that’s when I realized that there is such a thing as getting a little too close to nature. As I stooped to pick up the dropped clothing, I saw a different shade of green than my bedroom carpet.

Remember that grasshopper to which I referred, the one I thought almost flew up my short pant leg? Well, there it was in a sitting position and very much alive because I saw a twitch! Before it had a chance for what I’m sure would have been a very confusing short flight, I scooped it up, headed for the door and gave him back to the outdoors in its new city.

As for how I didn’t feel anything unusual going on entomologically speaking in my shorts for what I estimated to be six hours and over 40 miles driving distance will remain to me as one of the great natural mysteries, right up there with the Crooked Forest in Poland and that western part of the North Atlantic called the Bermuda Triangle that seems to have swallowed up so many planes and boats!

Yes, I’ll indeed cherish my Saturday bike rides with Lady Jane and the opportunities afforded to get more in tune with nature once spring manages to push winter aside yet again. However, let’s hope, when our rides commence, I can keep nature where it belongs, which is outside my pants!

By John Grindrod

Guest Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

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