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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Blackberry Winter

"Blackberry winter, the time when the hoarfrost
lies on the blackberry blossoms; without this frost
the berries will not set.  It is the forerunner of a rich
Margaret Mead

I have not ridden a century for three weeks now.  I don't like this.  My body does not like this, and my spirit certainly does not like this.  But sometimes responsibilities and work interfere. Then inertia sets in.  The less you ride, the less you want to ride.  It seems my work always picks up a bit this time of  year, robbing me of time on the bike just as the spring arrives. This is extremely unfortunate as spring is so short lived. Even more unfortunate,  after day after day of nice, sunshiny weather when I had to work and could not get out, the time I have off is predicted to be chilly with little to no sunshine and possible rain.

For some reason, I find it harder and harder to drag myself out the door  on chilly mornings in the spring unless the sun is shining.  Something in me resists.  But I am determined to get my May century in.  No, it is not like it is in the winter when the urge to get it completed is made more essential because of the possibility of really bad weather where you simply can't safely ride.  It is more a weariness of the spirit, of being tired of wind and gray and chill.

I decide to chart my course to Vernon all the while hoping that I don't find flooding that blocks my return and adds an extra 15 or 20 miles.  I think briefly of how now there will be nobody to chide me if I cross the flood waters wanting to get home. With the extra daylight, I should be okay if I do find flooding and not have to wade,  (I do not find the water over the road) but being without a rescue team, I throw  a light on the bike just in case.  I also give myself permission to return after thirty miles if I don't feel better, but as usual once I get my lazy rear out the door and actually on the bike, I fall back in love with the world, with the awesome beauty that surrounds me.

I have always found it interesting how winter sweat differs so from summer sweat.  There is something about a summer sweat that seems cleansing.  Winter or indoor sweat just doesn't, it is clammy and seem to have a subtle but pungently foul aroma. It leaves you cold, not cleansed.Today, I fear, will be a winter sweat, but at least my soul will be cleansed.  I will, as the saying goes, get my yayas out.

My sullenness subsides as I sudden feel the green beginning to penetrate seeping through my eyes and heart into my very soul.  I begin to feel young and strong again, not at all the old woman who looks out at me from the mirror sometimes.  There are still hints of some of the early spring flowers,  though the red bud has vanished.  Dog wood white still laces the world, bearded irises raise their lovely heads, waving in the wind as I pass, and I know it is truly almost Derby Day when I first smell the subtly sweet aroma and then see the honeysuckle.  I remember how as children we would pick the bloom, pulling the stamen through the smaller end of the flower and sucking the ambrosial droplet that was left behind as children must have done for thousands of years.  For the first time in a long time, I think of childhood friends, Brian and Mark, and some of the adventures we shared.  How sad that we lose touch with those whose company we enjoy, but it inevitably seems to happen, usually without our taking the time to thank those people for how they enriched our lives.  I suppose thank yous leave us vulnerable.  Or perhaps we are just lazy.

I am startled as a deer crashes through the brush and bounds across the road in front of me.  Something, I remain unsure what, obviously startled her.  Her fear is almost palatable and I wish I could comfort her, assure her that things are alright, but I have learned of my own powerlessness the hard way.  If I were truly powerful, I would not be a widow, so all I can do is sympathize and wish her luck on her journey.

The day never seems to warm, and while I take off my rain jacket for a bit, I quickly put it back on and am glad I did not leave it at home as I thought of doing.  In May, one does not usually think of needing arm warmers, leg warmers, wool socks. AND a jacket.  As I do every year, I have washed my wool and put it away countless times wishfully thinking it will be fall before I wear it again, only to find myself pulling it back out for "one last time."  And then I realize, it is what my husband, born and raised in the country, always called a "blackberry winter."  I remember him telling me how each year it would get cold for a bit just as the blackberry's bloom, and as happened so often, he was proved right.  Oh, there is that exception, but normally we do have a cold snap, and perhaps it serves a purpose that I, with my feeble mind, do not understand.  Because there is much that I do not understand in and about this world.  But I do understand that I am glad I rode today, that I got my May century in as I have gotten my century in at least once a month since November of 2003.  That is one of the beauties of riding a bicycle:  even when a part of us does not want to ride, we normally find ourselves pulled back into the love of the wind on our face and the freedom of the wheel powered by our own strength and desire and imagination.  

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