I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm kind of loving these global warming days. Sixty degrees and sunny in early March in Portland? It's crazy but good.
I spent a couple of hours battling roses today. The rose garden came with the house and it's become more of an obligation than a pleasure. I don't love roses, but ignoring them doesn't accomplish much so I pruned all 15 shrubs to get them in shape for spring. Oddly satisfying it was.
Later....the first proper bike ride of the year. Beth gave my sweet bike a little love and off we went on a pleasant and mercifully flat ride. I love riding my bike--it makes me feel like I'm eight years old again and free as a bird. But it also surprises me how much harder it is than walking. I can walk at a pretty good clip, even up hills, without huffing and puffing but by our midpoint I was winded and my legs were good and shaky. After a refreshing drink and a pause in the sunshine we headed back, ran into friends, looped through the park and had a great downhill coast back to Beth's house. Did I mention I love riding my bike?
While riding, I kept thinking about the bikes I've had over the years. The first: a purple Schwinn Fair Lady with orchids on the banana seat and a white wicker basket adorned with plastic flowers which I received as a gift for my sixth birthday. It took me a while to learn to ride that bike. It lived in the garage and I remember sitting on it while my dad did whatever it was he did in in the garage, chatting with him and getting used to the feel of it. I was seven going on eight when I had my two-wheeled epiphany and one Saturday everything just clicked. I rode all over our little subdivsion until dark, tumbled into bed, and got right back on the next morning before anyone else woke up. I hit a parked car and worried the heck out of my dad who had no idea where I'd gone. I never really got the brakes on that bike and was more likely to jump off at the end of a ride than stop properly. But that bike took me all over the place and lasted a good long time until I was 12 or so.
Bike #2 was a beautiful silver Raleigh 3 speed. But I was a fool and wanted an infinitely cooler 10-speed at that point. I realize now that my parents spent a fortune buying those beautiful bikes for me and my sister (hers was a lovely chocolate brown) an many times in my adult years I've wished to have that lovely bicycle back in my possession . That bike got me back and forth to school until I could save up enough babysitting money for something more fitting for my uppity teen self.
Bike #3, purchased when I was 14, was a red Echo 10-speed, slightly too large but somehow the perfect bike for me. I have no idea where it was made as I've never seen another, but it was my companion all the way through high school and it was my only transportation during college. That bike was a reliable workhorse, heavy as iron, and not at all fussy. I rode that thing through rain and snow, often with a cup of coffee and a lit cigarette on my early morning trips to campus. I gave up the cigarettes long ago but I never should have given up the cycling. I left it behind when I left Eugene and I have no idea what became of it.
Somehow in all the ensuing years, bicycles drifted out of my life. Only recently did I realize just how much I missed the freedom and joy of riding and on a whim bought an old but virtually new eighties-aqua Miyata last summer, too late to put it to much use before hibernating all winter in the garage. This year I really want to spend more time on my bike. I don't think I'll be going car-free anytime soon (even at $3.50/gallon) but I really, really want to trade four wheels for two a lot more often.