"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain
beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby."
I wake up to overcast skies and wind. I conclude that it would be ridiculous in the extreme to drive to the club ride, a flat, 50 miler through the city that a friend told me was "ugly." Why, I reason, would I do this when earth is awakening. There are wild flowers to be seen and green leaves emerging.
My only hesitation is the wind. I know it will be a tough ride out, but I also know the ride home should be glorious. While rain is not expected, I throw in a dollar plastic poncho. It is small and easily portable and I carry one in my bike bag almost the entire spring/summer/fall season. I get two miles from home and find I don't remember unplugging the coffee pot, so I return and find I am correct. I had turned it off but I had not unplugged it. Then I am off to Salem to get a donut.
The ride along Eden Park and Delaney Park roads are some of my favorites. The road is not terrible, there is little traffic, and it is mostly woods or farm land. Recently two Amish families have built alongside the road, and I will enjoy seeing their slow but steady progress. I pass the first home and a baby girl sits in the gravel wearing a baby blue bonnet. She does not appear to be big enough to toddle. The mother and two sons are doing something in the field next to her, farther away from me. The smile of the baby brings a grin to my face. I don't know if I will ever be a grandmother, but if so it will be bittersweet because I will be sad that my husband is missing it. There is nothing like the softness of an infant, the way they melt into your arms as if trying to merge their way back to the womb, the sweet smell of youth. I miss having children around, the laughter of the little ones, the intensiveness of their feelings as they get a tad older. Children laugh from the heart, their whole body writhing with enjoyment, but their sorrows are just as deep. I will miss the children when I retire, but I will not miss the sadness I have seen and have tried to ease. Hard enough to do for your own children, no less those of another.
The second Amish farm has put up a gate, or I assume it is a gate of some type since it is carved to fit into another log, that I find interesting so I stop to take a photo since the house is not right there and I won't be intruding. So often I pass photo opportunities I would love to take because it would be rude. Meanwhile, the sky begins to darken ominously. At the beginning of the large hill into Salem, the rain begins in earnest. I stop to put on my poncho, make sure my phone and camera are encased in plastic, and turn on my lights. Because the rain is heavy and visibility is little, I decide to walk the hill facing traffic to be sure I am seen and because I don't relish riding up the hill encased in plastic. Perhaps, I think, it will diminish by the time I reach the top of the hill. As if to mock me, almost immediately after I think at least there is no lightening and thunder, the thunder booms as lightening flashes across the sky. At the top of the hill, I decide to ride and discover that I have lost my rear view mirror. Briefly I debate retracing my steps to try to find it, but I decide that is probably a lesson in futility, so I get on my bike and ride. The plastic does nothing to help, billowing out like a sail to impeded my forward progress, but it beats the heck out of getting soaked. It is warm, but not that warm yet.
The rain does let up before I get to the bakery, but it does not stop. At some point, I realize I am enjoying it now that it is not so driving and hard. The above words by Langston Hughes come to mind. I try to remember the name of the professor who showed me his poetry, his magic, but while I can see him in my mind, a slight, dark haired man, Harvard graduate, loved marathons, I can't remember. Arriving at the bakery, I apologize for dripping on their floor and display case, but the girls are nice about it. I sit outside under the awning against the bakery eating my donut while people going into the shop stare. Some look curious, some look hostile, and some look friendly, but they all look at the crazy woman sitting under the awning in the rain eating her carmel iced roll.
I head back out truly missing my rear view mirror as this is the part of the route where there actually is some traffic. The rain stops at the top of Salem Hill on Old 56, a descent I was a bit concerned about due to wet roads. We have had so much rain lately, however, that the roads do not appear to have built up a slick upper coat of oil. I find myself singing Joni Mitchell songs that I have not really sang much since college and I realize that I am happy. Winters may be a problem when I retire, but I do not think I will ever tire of my bicycle and roads he takes me on. Even if it rains. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten what a joy riding in the rain can be. And then, the biggest miracle of all. I am across the street from my home, look down, and the lost mirror that fell off my helmet is there, hooked on the cables above my front wheel. 49 miles and just another day on the bike.