There is simple pleasure in having a bike waiting for you at the end of the sidewalk, slanted against the kickstand, waiting. I haven’t ridden a bike since, well, I never really rode a bike much. I got one in college, a ten-speed with skinny tires that I never felt safe on. Plus, biking in the city probably wasn’t in the cards for a timid country girl. I grew up on a dirt road, not much fun biking there either. Who knew at the age of fifty-four I would discover the joys of riding a bicycle?
Anna left her hand-me-down bike at home this summer. It's faded purple, a Diamondback, and just my size. Actually she forgot it, but now I tell her she can’t take it back until school starts.
I live in the perfect situation for a bike. It’s a short ¾ mile to ranch headquarters, paved road, minimal traffic. I take the dogs with me, and my favorite part is stopping at the canal to let them wade in for a drink, cooling off up to their bellies. The plants are heady with July growth. On the way by I soak up a passing fragrance of . . . what is that? Milkweed in bloom, alfalfa, maybe yellow headed mustard, or just the coyote willows that crowd the lane. Today a swallow was tormenting a hawk, who just shrugged at her threats. Some days I pedal through a lovely bank of cool air. All of this we miss driving our vehicles with the radio on and the air conditioner blowing.
Bonny, at 95, wishes she could ride with me. She told me about Gary’s bike he bought with his own money when he was 10 years old. He gathered beer and pop bottles for recycling. He would fill a case of twenty-four and get 35 cents for a case of beer bottles and 50 cents for pop bottles. He hit the mother lode in a neighbor’s trash heap, $11.00 in one stop! The local grocer gave him cash in return. His folks took him to Clegg's Second Hand Store where they sold new bicycles. When he got his bike home he was disappointed to find it didn't go very good in the sand. I discovered the same thing when I spun out in the stackyard.
Gary still has the bike, it cost $35.00, a fortune to a kid in the 50’s. He added a carrier later on to haul a passenger along.
I'm on the hunt for a used basket to fasten to the handlebars and complete my look.
|Gary's blue and white Schwinn -circa 1954|
(note the beaded buckskin gloves)