|Mr. Schwinn, out on the porch, ready to ride!|
In recent years, when the weather reports convince me (usually in November) that the biking season--for me--is over (I see some doughty folks riding all winter; it doesn't look fun), and when I finally carry the bike to the basement, I have to work hard to silence that annoying voice (my brain's? my bike's?) that insists on saying: You know what? When it's time to go back upstairs next spring, you may be DEAD!
You can't really slap a bike's face. Or insult it right back (Oh, yeah? I might leave you at the curb with the other TRASH!) I mean, you could talk to your bike ... but what if the neighbors heard? (Old Dan's out there talking to himself again, Marge. Sad ...) A friend told me that my favorite English teacher from high school, later, wandered around town talking to people who weren't there. Maybe he had a bike.
But--hauling it back up the stairs each spring! Now, that is Hope!
I always take it to Eddy's in Stow (where we bought it, oh, twenty-five years ago), where they charge me an ever-increasing sum to restore it. I like Eddy's. I remember when it was a much smaller operation, a place where you could buy cheese and fresh bait as well as bikes.
But this time, the service tech looked at me and said, Seen better days ... I wasn't really sure if he was talking about the bike, or me, so I assumed the former. I said, Well, I'm not riding any Tour de France. Chortle, chortle. (No reaction from focused? tech.) I suppose we can replace ... he said, naming parts I'd never heard of. Sure. Whatever.
Eddy's kept the bike a few days. On Tuesday I picked it up and, back home, hopped on right away, riding around the funeral home parking lot (next door--I call it my Stage 2 Retirement Home), checking out the gears, brakes. Everything worked fine. I'd been riding an exercise bike all winter, so I was working pretty fine, too. Not bad for guy on Medicare.
And then yesterday morning--Wednesday, very early, 6-ish--I rode it for the first time this spring (I know--not yet, officially) down to the coffee shop, several blocks away, both bike and I illuminated like a turnpike plaza, smoothly cruised to the front door, expertly stopped, smoothly dismounted, turned off all the lights (it took a while), waited for the doors to open, thinking, for yet another year: I am immortal.
And I think of that gorgeous Richard Wilbur poem ... from 2010 (see link), a poem about a man hopefully feeding birds in the winter's snow--
Betting crust and crumb
That birds will gather, and that
One more spring will come.
Richard Wilbur poem