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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Early Spring

"Spring won't let me stay in this house any 
longer! I must get out and breathe
the air deeply again."
Gustav Mahler 
 
 
It seems as if it has been raining for an eternity and I felt sure that I was yet again missing the glorious spring when green seeps steadily into the world, animals awaken, and flowers bloom.  Cold, rain, and snow doggedly hounded the steps of almost every day since spring officially arrived.  Don't get me wrong.  I love rain at times, the steady rhythm, the smells: I know rain is a life giver.  I am nicknamed for a century ride I rode in a steady drizzle when the official ride was canceled. But now I long for sunshine, bright and unadulterated, and blue, unclouded skies. Spring comes and goes with the blink of the eye, and it seems I can never get enough of her.  I am totally infatuated, starved by winter and the drear darkness. 

And it is here at last. Spring, even the word curves the corners of my mouth upwards,almost a prayer or a mantra.  The morning dawns cloudless.   Yes, more rain is predicted tonight, and strapping winds in the afternoon, but I will make use of what I am given.  As I head out, I wonder if this is the last time I will ride in a wool base layer and with booties on my feet, for despite the sunshine, it is in the low 30's.  The sunshine, however, refreshes my soul and I find I am entirely comfortable.  It is starting to profess the promise of warmth, but it is not yet the searing sun it will become in summer.  Absence has given it a gentleness that it will lose as the season ages.

The trees have not yet leafed out, but buds are evident everywhere.  The grass is greening.  As I ride on Eden Lane, I pass a church that sits across from a dog that I  seem to have a disagreement with each time I pass, a dog the owner is unable to control and seems to feel no obligation to control.  Today, however, as I prepare for our encounter, I notice activity in the church grave yard.  As many times as I have passed by this church and the adjoining small graveyard, I have never seen anyone there other than the occasional service goer on a Sunday morning:  but today there are gravediggers.  Perhaps they have complained about the dog and that is why he does not appear.  For whatever reason, no dog.  And a reminder, right at the start of my ride, to appreciate the life and health that is mine.  Selfishly I think how glad I am that I will get to see at least a bit of this new spring.  For some reason, I think of three past riders now gone:  Steve Phillips, Cheryl Brawner,  and Jim Whaley.  Strong riders, seemingly good people, gone too quickly.  Though I knew none of them well, today they whisper to me  telling me to enjoy myself and the newborn world.  How often I forget that each day, particularly those days without pain or tribulation, are a blessing.  What little things I whine and complain about.  

As if on cue, I happen upon a large group of violets.  Prior to having my basement waterproofed and all the digging involved, loads of violets graced my lawn.  Now, much to my sorrow, there are but a few.  The words of Alice Walker come to mind: "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."  How could one not notice the rich color and deceptive daintiness? 

And then I come upon the daffodils, jauntily cheerful and sure of themselves.  As a new friend mentioned recently, they are in a place that obviously once held a building that was home to someone.  The home is gone, the person is likely gone, but the beauty they created remains, delighting my eyes and my soul.  I feared I had missed them, the daffodils, that the snow and rain and time would have claimed them,  but yet here they are, stoically proclaiming that it is spring.  I am not too late.  And as I have done so often recently, having decided to retire at the end of the summer and even having applied for social security, I glory in the realization that, barring health or other problems, I should not have to miss nearly so many nice days as I have had to do in the past to put food on the table and to keep a roof over my head. I also think that I may need to get a better camera and perhaps even take some photography lessons, for I have found that it is another thing that I enjoy, the capturing of a moment, frozen forever, renewing my memories.  I had hoped to find Trillium, but not today.  Next year, perhaps, for I know where they are abundant just outside of Vernon.

Around me, lies all the evidence of the recent overabundance of rain.  Fields that would normally be ready for plowing seem to be lakes.  Roads disappear as if they were made for boat trailers.  Streams gurgle and make that rushing noise, almost as if they are laughing.  I pass two new Amish homes, clothing blowing in the strengthening breeze.  A horse and carriage pass, the rather thin, chestnut horse straining and throwing its head to the side to try to see me despite the blinkers it is wearing.  The driver is young and the horse inexperienced, but we pass without incident.  Later I see three Amish children with their fishing poles, sitting by a pond.  Two Amish children, a brother and sister, bid me, "Good day. An excellent day." I smile at the quaintness of their speech, as if time has stopped.  No, "Yo, mama" from the Amish;-) 

My cousin tells me sometimes I need to move to where there are more things, and sometimes I must admit it is tempting.  There are so many activities I want to try and learn once I am free. My nephew has urged me to move from Indiana to a state more in line with my political leanings.  But I realize that I love this land and these roads I haunt and have haunted.  I love the memories they hold and the "to be" memories that I feel certain they hold for me in the future, for each ride is an adventure.  Some memories with friends and some alone, but all dear to me.  My tears have watered these roads, my songs have moved along the road with me, and my laughter has brightened these roads.  I love the friends I have made, bicycling and otherwise.  I don't have an overabundance (does one ever have enough friends), but I do have friends who enrich my life just with their presence.  This and the memories my house holds, the ghosts of children and the ghost of my love....I have never been very good at letting go, and to let go without a dream to head toward seems rather silly. The time will come, but it is not now.

Water guides my path to an extent, but it does allow me to get to Salem.  My destination was the bakery, and I sit on the curb and marvel at the taste of the caramel iced roll I have purchased.  Food just tastes better after you have ridden and your body needs fuel to go further.  How many curbs have I graced with my rear in how many states? How much junk I have consumed from gas stations while on rides? The thought is mind boggling. One man smiles at me and says he guesses this is why people exercise.  Where along the way did we forget that we need to use our bodies and use them regularly?  I know that a day will come when I will no longer throw my leg over the seat of a bicycle and ride out, but I hope that day is a long time coming.  So I bend and stretch and exercise and do even on those days when I would rather sit on the couch with a glass of wine and read or watch television.

I sing on the way home, songs coming to my mind from years past.  Upon reaching Salem, I have left the forested areas and will be returning through farm yards.  I think of the 300K brevet riders and strangely feel no regret. Well, maybe a tinge, but perhaps next year will be different. There is a time and place for everything.  I had no desire to fight this wind the entire day or to be rained on after the sun went down.  Tomorrow is Easter and I have plans. Something to look forward to.    I also have chores that need to be finished before returning to work Monday. Something I don't look forward to but that is very limited.  I hope and expect that I will see many more springs, and I feel certain that I will still waste entire days, but I did not waste this one.  So much beauty.  God must surely be in his heaven and all right with the world.

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