Sunday, October 2, 2011
Harvest and Cycling, my autumn treasures
I get up a little slower when I've been sitting on the floor, but otherwise, I still feel as physically capable as ever. Maybe I'm fooling myself. But then again...I had a happy realization while cycling last week. I love watching the long shadows during an evening ride in the fall. What I don't love is that dark comes so quickly. Twice this year, I've squeaked home on my bike in the throes of darkness. A couple near misses. Time to mount my light for safety--just in case.
But watching my own shadow, I snapped this self-portrait. I remember how when I started riding fifteen (!!?) years ago, the guys' long shadows were so smooth; their long shadow legs looked like smooth, fast pistons stretching out, up and down the ditches as we passed. Mine looked awkward and certainly not smooth by comparison. Last week, I watched my shadow and made this happy discovery: lo and behold, somewhere, somehow in the last decade and a half of riding, my own cadence has become smoother. My legs looked like pistons, too. I'm going to relish that realization.
The harvest itself fills my heart so full that sometimes I think it will burst (to embrace a cliche). Riding my bike alongside tractors, golden beanfields, or a combine like the one in this picture I took last week reminds me of the richness our soil still holds (IF we take care of it). The smells and sounds wash over me with memories: walking out to Dad's combine in my Halloween costume to show him my ghostly self before we went trick-or-treating; riding rounds in the combine with him, working aloud on my Confirmation memory work; just riding, my forehead pressed against the glass window (exactly as Lainey does in Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged), watching the grain or corn wash like a wave up into the combine header. And those glorious last autumns at home, when both my brother Bill and Dad were out in the field and they trusted me to do the chores all by myself. I felt so useful. What a good thing to feel.
There was the night when I was probably sixteen when I drove the Cub Cadet into the hog lot with a cart full of 5-gallon buckets of feed, and realized I couldn't back it out without the cart twisting sideways. I was utterly stuck. What did I do? I emptied the buckets, fed the pigs, and then straightened the cart behind the little tractor by herking it around by hand so I could back out. I don't think I ever told Dad or Bill about that and here I am, publishing it for the world. I still can't back a wagon or a cart to save my neck.
But I can ride my bike down county highways, flanked on both sides by golden, browning fields of grain and corn, and breathe it in, and be glad to be this tiny part of the plenty of the earth.