blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Riding to Enlightenment

At least, of the geriatric variety.

Went on Saturday morning early by granny bike across town to our favorite, small local grocery store. The goat milk had come in a day earlier, and I hadn't yet picked mine up. Now, don't imagine a bucolic ride through the suburbs. I have to ride a major east/west highway where the breakdown lanes whimsically come and go, where my companions are 18 wheelers and lost tourists in RVs wobbling along with their steps down and pissed off locals in SUVs speeding with cell phones clamped to their ears, toward their kid's baseball/soccer/football/ games.

At our once famous factory, there are incursions of loose gravel and dirt humps left by deconstruction along the margins the human-powered vehicles are supposed to use. In the middle of town, where I need to travel south, I must cross two lanes of traffic in order to get to the turning lane. All that, and my rear-view mirror is busted, so I'm stealing looks over my shoulder which makes the bike wobble. After that turn is negotiated, I can take the townies' way through the neighborhoods, but this year almost every street has been torn up for sewer repairs, so there's yet more gravel, potholes, etc. to negotiate. Then, out onto the another big east/west road where the breakdown lane disappears the block before the last across traffic turn I have to make in order to reach my goal.  Here there is a small, not very useful bike rack to which I lock up, but I'm grateful to have even this provided.

I buy what I need, with a side trip to the pharmacy next door to pick up the inevitable oldster medications. Then, it's time to see whether my bags will contain a half gallon of goat milk and a head of broccoli before climbing back on the bike again. This time, fully loaded, I decide to take the back road home, through neighborhoods and the bike path. Of course, a bike path means not only something that's too narrow and not very well-maintained, but also an enormously steep hill which is tough on my less-than-perfect knees, but it's either that or brave the same traffic in reverse,  now an hour later into Saturday morning in this busy tourist town. I push my bike up the last hill, puffing away, but there are ducks down in the low water creek, amiably dabbling away, and a nice breeze ruffling the leaves of the handsome old sycamores which makes up for it.

Even the more trafficked ride into town has benefits. For me, it's a meditation on survival and a task which involves, in the strictest way, that my attention focus on the now. There's no place for small worries or for rumination--or even for fear--when those 18 wheelers go rumbling past and I'm negotiating yet another gravel patch. I'm tired when I reach home, even though it was just a few miles, and sweaty, too. Still, there's a sense of mastery, and even of tranquility, when I complete this mundane trip. After all, my body can still work for me, and I made it safely home again.


Juliet Waldron
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1 comment:

  1. I admire your ability to exercise those gams - but you scare me, Juliet. Here's to safer paths in future. AND where can I get that t-shirt!?