"There's something of a restorative quality about
spring, where something whispers wild rumors about
new beginnings arising from the seemingly dead seeds
of our lives, There's something almost cruel about it
all, as if there might be some sort of truth about a
new life actually being possible. Yet, maybe it is true."
It is one of the those glorious spring days where the sun shines in an endlessly blue sky and the warmth teases you, calls you, beckoning with promises. I am torn between a desire to ride and a desire to throw open the windows and clean house, hanging sheets in the fresh breeze so that they seem clean, cleaner than being dried in a clothes dryer. It is as if the sun and wind seeps into them. And so, I decide to do a bit of both. While I miss having my schedule revolve around someone else, there is a freedom here. And with this burst of spring, I find a smile on my lips and a song in my heart.
It doesn't hurt that I have decided to buy another bicycle for myself, one that is better equipped for overnight traveling and for gravel roads. As I struggle with the decision, I hear my husband in my head urging me forward. "It's only paper," he whispers, "Do it while you can, while you have your health, while you are still able." Perhaps I will continue to do brevets and perhaps not, but I do intend to do some bicycle touring. I call and order the bike, an early 60th birthday present.
I spend the morning doing the mundane chores, music echoing throughout my house, so that when I ride and return, I can bathe and delight in the clean. The cats enjoy this, the activity fascinates them and it is much more satisfying having company while you labor. Tom pounces on the broom as I sweep, letting it know in no uncertain terms that he rules. And before you know it clothes are washed and line dried and put away, sweeping and vacuuming is done, and it is time: time to head out the door on my bicycle.
I have decided to ride my fixed gear to Brownstown. I don't know why I have suddenly fixated on my fixed gear because I have not ridden it often in the past few years. I have ridden it three times this week. It is an old, heavy steel bike: a Raleigh that Lucky Dog pulled from someone's trash can. To me, it is beautiful though with its black and gold paint.
There is a lovely simplicity about riding fixed. There is the acceptance that you may make it up a hill, or you may not, and if you do not there is no shame in walking. The route I have chosen is fairly flat, but there is the one climb out of Brownstown that has a fairly nice grade to it.
The fields are lovely, not yet worked by the farmer, blanketed with the purple flowers the bees love so. I remember the sound of the bees, their droning, as they harvested from this weed, whatever it may be, as it grew in our garden. I remember one of them popping me right on the throat when I pulled up some of their pasture and Lloyd removing the pulsating stinger sac with a credit card. I pass a group of birds, vultures or buzzards I think, each sitting on a fence post, wings spread toward the sun. I have seen this before and read that it has to do with wing drying and thermoregulation. Why, I think, would their wings be wet?
I think of mundane things, like what I will have for dinner tonight, and how I miss having company and someone to talk about the days ride with. And I realize that I hope I do not spend the rest of my life alone despite the fact it feels a bit disloyal. I am lulled from my reverie by some idiot who feels he must blare his horn at me despite the fact he has an entire lane to pass in as nobody is coming, and I do something I rarely do: flip him off.
I worry as I see tail lights briefly light, but he drives on. I think this was not very smart on my part, to flip off a stranger on a fairly deserted road that has flood water on each side: the perfect place to dispose of someone who pissed you off because they were on a bicycle and not in a car. I never will grasp the hostility particularly in those situations where the bicycle is not costing anyone to lose a second of their precious time. But of course my imagination has once again grabbed the bit and run off with me: he is not waiting around the next curve of the road.
It is funny how quickly 40 miles go by and I am home. I briefly consider riding more, but decide to call it a day. There are still a few clothes hanging on the line that need to be folded and put away, supper to be cooked, and dishes to be washed. But what a glorious spring bicycling day. On a day like today, I can believe, at least partially, that a new life may indeed be possible.