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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spring in February

"May God grant you always
A sunbeam to warm you,
A  moonbeam to charm you, 
A sheltering Angel so nothing can
harm you. 
Laughter to cheer you.
Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray,
Heaven to hear you."
Irish blessing
 It is one of those rare and magical winter days that is a gift from above: mid-February yet it is predicted to be at or near seventy degrees by days end instead of the typical thirty degrees.  It is one of those days where you aren't sure if it lessens or intensifies your longing for spring by gifting you with one less day of true winter, yet leaving you yearning for the surely impossible:  more.  Perhaps it is my nature to be greedy and want more for I am but human.  I only know that I yearn for spring and for sunshine, blessed sunshine, warm, brilliant, and somehow or other uplifting.

And what is more, another gift, it is a week-end.  I do not have to work and I can ride my bicycle.  Not only can I ride my bicycle, but I am meeting friends for a century ride.  And if I have my guess, it will be one of my favorite kind of rides:  roads I don't normally travel with nobody in the typical hurry of a true winter day when weather hounds and chastens you to quicken your pace.  Time apart means there are new stories to hear and to tell as we catch up. 

And it is just such a ride.  All of us, so changed yet so much the same.   Soon enough we fall into our old patterns.  There is laughter and a few shared memories.  The first chorus of frogs timidly splits the air sounding as glorious as a symphony and so full of promise as to what is to come soon.  The  strict, harsh, clearly defined edges of tree branches beginning to blur with the promise of leaves to come.  The promise: sometimes I think that is what gets me through these last cold, dreary days that follow the Christmas holiday.  The appreciation of the ride and the weather honed to a fine edge by the understanding that there is always the possibility that this could be our last such ride.  Life has taught me that as well as that I cannot love them well enough, and I do love them for what they are and what they have been to me.

 If only the brevets could have such glorious weather, but this is Kentucky and I have come to expect wind, rain, and cold for the brevets.  Oh, well, I suppose it toughens you.  Looking back, those rides, the difficult and challenging ones, are the ones I remember best if only in snippets.  Wind blowing snow sideways and so loud that we could not break up the tediousness of our journey with conversation with a sudden magnificent and unexpected lunar eclipse.  Another ride shivering while a friend helps me put on fresh gloves that my hands, so cold, are unable to manipulate.  Another feeding a friend a gel because his hands would not work.  So many memories, more than I could ever relate.  And I suppose if I am truly honest, not all of them are memories of hardship for there are memories of rides with jokes and laughter.

Perhaps we will have good weather for the brevet season this year.  If you can sit outside a store stop by choice in February because it is warm and the sun feels delicious, perhaps you can occasionally have weather for an early spring/late winter Kentucky brevet that is not so challenging.  Perhaps this year, heaven will hear me.  The words above may be an Irish blessing, but they are so suitable for brevets.  May all have a successful, memory making brevet season, a season that toughens the legs, but warms the heart and makes you aware of your blessings.  Rides end.  Memories don't.