Today the ice on the back roads chooses my route for me. It is cold outside, numbingly cold, the kind of cold that takes your breath away, and there is a chill advisory; but snow is predicted for tomorrow and I want to get at least a few miles in. I have ridden a century in even colder weather so I know that while it may not be as pleasant as a spring century, it can be done. And normally I find I am enjoying myself so long as I am dressed appropriately.
Before heading out I slather my face in Vaseline and dress in layer upon layer of wool praying that I have no mechanical issue along the way. At least on a main road, there is more of a chance of rescue if something does go wrong, though my original intention is to ride the back roads. One reality of my new life is the lack of a prince to rescue me when I do something stupid. Only a short trip on those back roads is enough to convince me to turn around and head toward a main road. Something within me needs to go free before being confined by wintery weather, and if that means main roads, so be it. I also know I have no business riding on ice and I do not want to fall. Healing that took month after month has taught me the luxury that is sleeping on your side without your shoulder hurting and constantly awakening you. Yes, if I ride I know I will fall again, but I do all I can to prevent it. I had hoped we might miss the snow this year, but God thought otherwise.
I head out into a world where the sun is shining and the sky is brilliantly blue, but otherwise there is no color that is not man made and rather tawdry, at least other than cardinals and woodpeckers, and there is certainly no warmth. At least the wind is manageable, though as light as it is my pace often becomes only a determined crawl. The longer I ride, the less blue there is above as the sky pulls her fluffy white blankets up around her neck preparing for the coming of the snow.
Around me the air is silent, as if the world is momentarily paused, holding her breath to see if the snow and frigid temperature prediction is true. Not one bird song or frog croak crack the frigid silence. The sound of my bicycle seems to be the only sound in the world today. Will this silence ever be broken by singing again? I think of how my husband, despite my poor singing ability, always said he enjoyed having a wife who sang. I sing doing housework, rocking babies to sleep, etc. until once my children said it was like being raised in a musical. Oddly enough, I come upon a huge frog, frozen thus changing my thoughts. It is lying in the road, one leg literally jaggedly cracked off. How did he get there? Did some predator dig him up from his winter sleep? If so, why was he not devoured? We have not yet had warm enough weather for frogs to stir. I tell him I am sorry and ride on briefly pondering his fate.
I only ride 38 miles, but I feel better when I return. Supper is a non-issue as yesterday I made bread and chili and with just one of me, there is more than enough for dinner tonight. Thank you, God, for my daily bread. Chores were done after my run yesterday morning. But there are books waiting, books that can take me places I have never been or bring me back to visit places that I long for; and there are blankets and pillows and cats to snuggle with while I go without ever leaving my home. And while this pretend world is not in the end as satisfying as the real one can be at times, it is pleasurable. And it is warm. And for right now, it is what I have. Yet again, I thank my husband for his part in providing me with this shelter and for allowing me to dream. "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." Neil Gaiman