Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, November 12, 2012

Basement Bike

My bike went in the basement yesterday.  11 November 2012.  It happened a little later this year, the basement banishment.  But the weather had stayed pretty decent recently, and I had remained a bit more hopeful than I usually am when we lose Daylight Savings Time, when the leaves go down, when the late afternoons darken far before I want them to.

Yesterday, in fact, was a gorgeous day around here.  Sunny.  Warm.  I rode the old Schwinn down to Starbucks (a half mile or so?), where I did some reading, some light editing of a text, then biked home, holding in my heart both the sweet knowledge that this was one wonderful ride and the bitter fear that I always have when the bike goes to the basement: Will I be able to ride it again in the spring?  Will I again feel that surge of joy when I soar down a hill?  The surge I've felt since that first day in the early 1950s, Amarillo, Texas, when I rolled for the first time down the sidewalk--by myself!--then flopped in a neighbor's lawn when I realized I didn't know how to stop and dismount?

And I remember: Years ago we were on one of our car trips out to Oregon to visit my folks, who were living in retirement in Cannon Beach.  We had gone one of our favorite ways--across the northern plains on U. S. 2--clear across Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.  Into Glacier National Park in the Rockies.  And the Park's glorious Going-to-the-Sun Road.  We had climbed Logan Pass and were out of the car, enjoying the spectacular vistas up there.  We had passed some bicyclists on their way up the pass, pumping hard in their lowest gear.  They arrived while we were still there.  I heard another stopped motorist ask one of the women with her bike, "Isn't that hard, climbing these passes?"  "Sure," she said, "but it's a kick in the ass going down the other side."  She sounded as if she couldn't wait.

(Years later, my first grandson would be named Logan.)

I am sixty-eight now.  No spring, summer, or even autumn chicken.  More like a winter chicken, one with a little hoar frost flaking his feathers.  And one thing I've learned in my decades on the planet: Life is fragile.  Health is fragile.  Even my next breath is a hope, not a promise.  And so my struggle to get the bike in the basement each year is a psychological struggle as well.  I don't want the day to come.  I don't want to have to lift the bike, guide it down the stairs, put it out of sight.

And then think about it, down there, all winter, while I'm hoping that every dawn is a promise of another one.  And another one.  And that some warm day in March I will be guiding that Schwinn back up the stairs, back into the sunlight. Where I will check the tires, the brakes, then mount and ride off down the street, once again--and forever--that little Amarillo boy.

No comments:

Post a Comment