if it wasn't for my motorcycle accident, seeing an owl in new england for the very first time would be the headline of tonight's weblog entry. however, fate intervened and now i can barely walk with my swollen ankle (my "cankle" as i so lovely refer to my temporary debilitation) wrapped in a ziploc bag full of ice cubes.

here's how it happened: i was coming back from exploring nobscot reservation in sudbury. i heading east on route 20, which is the main drag that cuts through the town. we're approaching rush hour so there are more cars now. i turn my head for a split second to see the flashing lights of a police cruiser parked on the side of the road, but by the time i turn back, i'm 15 feet away from a land rover SUV that has suddenly stopped in front of me. i brake hard and my motorcycle is screeching. even though i'm not going very fast (10-15mph), i can't stop the motorcycle in time and i'm crumpled into the back of the SUV.

it all happened so fast, my right side slammed into the car, and my motorcycle goes down, 300 lbs. of metal pining my left ankle for a split second before i managed to roll out onto incoming traffic in the opposite lane. fortunately traffic was slow to begin with so i didn't get run over. immediately people are rushing out to help me. there are bits of broken car everywhere on the road, tail light, bumper, and from the ground i can see and smell that my motorcycle is leaking gasoline. i sit up, everyone is asking if i'm okay, i can hear them but i can't say anything because my left ankle is in excruciating pain, and i also slammed my right shin bone. finally i manage to sputter, "it hurts, my foot," disregarding the fact that i'm stating the obvious. "i'm okay," i wince, trying to stand up, trying to get out of the opposite lane of traffic i've managed to block because i've been thrown off my motorcycle. "don't try standing, the ambulance is coming," the police officer tells me. the ambulance? for real? no need, see, i'm fine, i'm getting up - before collapsing on the lawn of a house next to the road. i see the ambulance, with a fire truck right behind it. i'm mortified, this is so embarrassing.

i'm not mangled, just banged up my legs a little bit, i'll be okay, other than smashing up the back of the other car. i'm sort of dazed, and everyone is treating me really nice, which makes me feel stupid and embarrassed. i try to find the woman of the SUV so i could apologize. the EMT gives me a cold compress to hold onto my ankle. i roll off my socks so he can check my foot. there's a big swollen contusion near my ankle. he asks me to flex my foot, i do so, i tell him i'm fine. "do you need to go to the hospital?" he asked me. i say i'll be okay. i don't want to make this anymore complicated than it already is. one of the officers take my license and registration. the pain is subsiding, at least enough for me to stand up and watch the commotion. a fireman tells me that my ankle may not hurt now, but it's going to really hurt tomorrow. another officer tells me what's going to happen. "we'll file the report, tow your bike, and then take you back to the station so you can call for a ride." i nod and say okay. the reason why there was a police car on the side of the road was because there was another car accident earlier. all that car debris? that was from the previous accident. the land rover i hit didn't even have a scratch on it.

now that traffic has been restored, i go and inspect the motorcycle. there's a dent on the fuel tank and gasoline is leaking from a tube. doesn't look good. other than the fact that the bike could explode at a moment's notice, it didn't suffer all that much damage. with everything squared away (ambulance and fire truck gone, i get my copy of the accident report), one of the officers take me to the police station, which is just a few houses down the street. i've been been in the back of a cruiser before. it's surprisingly clean although the seats are hard metal. he takes me into a small private office (that looks to be also their server closet) and hands me the phone. "or i could call with this," i fish out my cell phone, forgetting i had it. i needed it anyway, because i can't remember anyone's numbers. normally i'd call my parents in a situation like this, but they're on vacation at the cape so that wouldn't work. i call my sister, who i know is at home today. she's actually in harvard square, but rushes down to sudbury without even asking me what happened, just that i was in a motorcycle accident. sudbury is about 20 miles away from boston but because of rush hour traffic it takes my sister about an hour to get here.

while i'm waiting for my sister a police officer hands me a ticket, "following too close," which is a $20 fine. it's the least of my problems now.

my sister doesn't know about my ankle and actually parks the car a short distance from me when she finally gets there. it takes me several minutes to hobble across the parking lot. we go visit the repair shop where they towed my motorcycle because i want to see how much damage there was. upon further inspection, the bike is still rideable, even though the rear break pedal is at a funny angle and the right side rear view mirror is pointing downwards. the leaking gasoline was nothing, apparently all bikes do that if you throw them upside down. so i decide to ride the motorcycle home, despite my bum ankle. but here's where insult gets added to injury. they charge me $90 for the tow and $20 more for storage. i really just want to get out of there so i pay up, feeling awful that i just got fleeced.

my sister is following behind me in her car as we make it back to town. the rear break pedal is in a weird location so sometimes i fail to find me, resulting in some delayed breaking. sucks to get into another accident today! the right rear view mirror is also busted, so i can only see half of what's behind me. and everything time change gear with my left foot it hurts. likewise anytime i stop and put my left foot down it hurts.

motorcycle crashes are very personal. in a car, surrounded by so much metal and cushioning, i might hit something and not even notice. on a motorcycle though, i don't have such luxury. when i hit something, i feel it. i'm crushed underneath my motorcycle. i kiss the pavement. i see shattered car parts on the road. it's an experience for the 5 senses. in a motorcycle crash, the driver always gets hurt. i suppose i was due for an accident. i've been riding for 8 years now, and the only accident i ever had was when i just started riding, i made a turn a little too tight and fell off the bike at 1 mph. and the bike itself has suffered too, a hit-and-run right outside my house in the middle of the night, ruined the kickstand and slightly misaligned the front fork (it's still slightly crooked, to this day). as far as motorcycle crashes go, i think i got off pretty easily. if i was going any faster, there'd be broken bones for sure if not worse. bike crashes are notorious for leaving drivers dead. and the motorcycle itself wasn't totaled. it needs to go into the shop for repairs, but should be good in no time. i've come to realize that we need car accidents every once in awhile: makes you appreciate those times when you're not having one.

back at home, i'm taking an inventory of my injuries. my own self-diagnosis says that i don't have any broken bones (those really hurt - so i've been told - my pain is debilitating but bearable). i don't bruise easily so i have to check by prodding. definitely my left ankle got the worst of it, swollen now. my right shin got banged up a little too, but not as bad as the ankle, feels like a bad muscle ache. my left knee isn't so happy either, but since i don't put any pressure on my left leg anymore, it's not really an issue. on my arms i have some minor nicks and cuts, nothing major (i was wearing a t-shirt). my left thumb feels like i might've jammed it at some point, but it doesn't hurt unless i squeeze it. my left arm hurts if i hold it outstretched. i have a pain in my upper chest region, and i think that's where one of the handlebars punched me as i slammed into the bike. i also have a small cut on chest, which i thought was sort of weird, until i realized that where i probably hit my key. hit it with such force that it actually bended. basically some pain in every part of my body. i mean, i was thrown off my motorcycle. the best part is none of my camera equipment suffered any damage, even when i was thrown off the bike. that would've really made me sad, more so than being extorted money from the sudbury auto garage.

so i went to nobscot reservation today, in sudbury. it's easy to get to, just follow route 20 west for about 20 miles, past towns of waltham, weston, and wayland (the 3 W's).

the entrance is sort of hidden, off of the side of the highway onto a circular dirt path, but once you go in, there's a large clearing big enough to fit many cars. an empty wooden informational kiosk greeted me so i knew i was in the right place. i began my preparations: take a GPS reading (in case i get lost in the forest and need to find my way back), clip my telephoto lens pouch to one of the backpack straps, spray bug repellent on my head and hands, and put on my light windbreaker (ward off mosquitoes).

onto the trail i went, through a pine forest. i saw a lot of ladyslippers, which can usually be found in new england pine forests this time of the year. early part of the trail, houses can still be seen on either side encroaching into the reservation. but eventually it was all forest the further south i went. there was also a lot of blueberry shrubs, a nice place to forage in the later summer. i came across a large vernal pool filled with tadpoles which i'm assuming are immature wood frogs. this seemed like a fairly permanent vernal pool. later i'd come across a much smaller pool, which looked like it'd be completely dry by mid-summer. there was hardly any mosquitoes, which could be a result of the bug repellent, but i think it had more to do with the fact that i wasn't near any swamps like i was at cedar hill. another thing i noticed was there was hardly any poison ivy (once again, very different from cedar hill, where poison ivy was everywhere). i saw a few patches but you really had to hunt for them. overall a nice place to hike but sort of boring other than the abundance of ladyslippers.

a lot of small hills, some mounds of dirt while others heaps of large rocks. the large rocks were more interesting, and i found some of my favorite ferns, the polypody. growing alongside were marginal woodferns, as well as partridge berries and solomon's seals (which in my experience are kind of rare, i usually encounter more false solomon's seals).

the highlight of the trip came when i saw a large bird crashing through the top of some tall oak trees (it was near a trail exit to an unnamed paved road directly due east of the large vernal pool). my eyes couldn't really focus because i'd pressed down on my eyeball while looking through the camera's viewfinder, but with what detail i could gather from squinting, it was definitely a raptor of some kind, maybe a red-tailed hawk. the only thing was i couldn't see a head. that's when it dawned on me that maybe it was an owl so i quickly changed into the telephoto lens to get a better look.

through the camera i could see it was just looking at me with those big black eyes. unfortunately a bluejay was busy attacking the owl, every so often swooping down and clawing at its head. the owl didn't seem to be bothered even though the attacks seemed rather violent. after a few minutes a few away to a different branch, but the bluejay kept on attacking. the owl made a sound that sounded more dog/wolf than the normal hoot (a descending "ah-wooooo"). after a while it flew away and disappeared further into the forest. "

up to this point in time, i've never seen a wild owl in new england before. and the only other time i've ever seen a wild owl was a small one in an abandoned building near ho chi minh city, vietnam.

the first few weeks of a garden is the hardest. i checking it everyday, making sure none of the young plants have been trampled or possibly blown down by the wind or the rain. once they get bigger they can fend for themselves. i've noticed a lot of wild morning glory seedlings sprouting throughout the garden. those i normally leave alone but there's going to be a lot of them. maybe i can plant them elsewhere around the neighborhood, share the wealth.

it's official: obama is the democratic presidential nominee! although clinton still isn't giving up. is tenacity just a nice way of saying delusional? talking heads are saying she wants the vice president job. my own personal favorite is bill richardson.

oh, and eliza had her baby boy today, right on schedule. congrats!