"Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself
to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under
the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that
you stop being afraid of never coming back. Say no
when you don't want to do something. Say yes if your
instincts are strong, even if everyone around you
disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or
admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than
finding out what you are doing here. Believe in kissing."
The rain believes in kissing, sometimes the deep, probing, throaty kiss of passion that may even border on pain at moments, and sometimes the gentle, nourishing kiss given to a child at bedtime, heart-achingly poignant. All day it has been falling, kissing the earth, and it would be an acceptable excuse not to head out the door with a bicycle. I have no one to answer to but myself. It repels and attracts me all at the same time, and it is time to make the decision. Housework is done and I need the training miles, thus I yield to the part of me that wants to dance with the rain, to feel it caress me, gently and lover-like, to listen to its rhythm on my helmet, in the trees, in the corn fields, in the creeks. It is a warm rain today, a gentle rain, soft and alluring. It should not be hard to force myself out into it. It is the type of rain that lead to my Mad Dog naming so very long ago: Puddle. It is the type of rain that I need to reclaim as my own. It is the type of rain that may, perhaps, combined with solitude, will help me remember, "what you are doing here."
Originally my training plan was to ride Bartles Knob, Pixley Knob, Liberty Knob, and another hill whose name escapes me, but the thought of the steep, curvy, wet descents turns me in another direction. I head toward Salem via Mt. Eden Road and Delaney Park. A deer melts into the woodland border, I see only his powerful haunches, brown yielding to creamy whiteness, and I wish that my hand could lie on his flank for a moment, to feel the muscles coiled, warm, and sinewy as he bounds away. I wish him safety with hunting season nearing, and I thank him for the beauty he has added to this ride.
I hear the rain in the way you can only hear it when you are out riding in it alone, and it forms a harmony with the sound of my bicycle wheels, a harmony that changes as I go from corn fields to forest or when the road borders a creek. Everything is unbelievably green and lush, and with the gentle veil of the rain, borders on mysterious. A rafter of turkeys cross the road in front of me, two large turkeys and three small ones. Spying me, the two older turkeys scurry off leaving only the sound of their passing into the brush. The younger ones fly, gangly and graceless. I realize I have too long neglected these roads for other routes. I realize it is one of those days when you feel as if you could ride forever without ever tiring, physically or mentally. And I am thankful. I remember what I am doing here.