Last summer my son visited from NYC for three months and we bicycled together a lot. I had been meaning to bike more after my last visit to NYC and Montreal, where I rode city bikes with my boys. So I got my bike fixed up. But that was November and I only rode twice before it seemed too cold to ride.
I say â€œseemedâ€ because now Iâ€™ve learned that it is not often that it’s â€œtoo coldâ€ to ride or do anything outside, at least in mid-Missouri. I rode one chilly day this fall and decided 45 degrees was as cold as I could do. Wrong! My son is back here again and we rode the other night in 28 degrees, with no sun and plenty of wind, at 5:00 p.m. Now that was cold! Bone-chilling, even with my newly purchased windproof/waterproof gloves, wool gaiter and hat, and shoe covers Iâ€™d inherited from a friend. Brr. But! Still fun!
When I get on my bike (I say â€œmyâ€ although it is a super-cool bike on longterm loan from an apparently very good friend), I feel like a kid, zooming down the street, whatever the temperature. The freedom! The air in my face! Though when itâ€™s cold or very hot, I hesitate to go, I always end up wondering why I was reluctant. Because every time I leave my driveway, standing up on the pedals and sailing down the street, I feel so free and happy! Itâ€™s worth those first few minutes to get out there and feel like a kid. I could easily come home and build a blanket fort in the living room for the way it makes me feel. With baloney and ketchup saltine cracker sandwiches.
I am certainly not a big time cyclist like others, not by a long shotâ€“but maybe I donâ€™t need to be. My sons have taken many long, challenging rides in all kinds of places. Cole, for example, cycled the coast of Vietnam by himself last winter and is now hoping to one day cycle the entire coast of Taiwan. My friend Julie rode 3,000 miles in 2019! And loads of people ride across Missouri or Kansas or the U.S. or Europe every year. I have done none of those things and maybe I never will. But I have fun the minute I get on that bike.
â€œWhen the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.â€ – Arthur Conan Doyle
|My first bike was a turquoise and white girls’ bike with fenders that rose to a peak down the middle. It was a surprise birthday gift, my Dadâ€™s idea, a thing I had not asked for or even dreamed Iâ€™d get. We girls used to try to ride our big brothersâ€™ bikes and we were neither welcome nor very able to do it. So I was thrilled to have a bike of my very own. And then when we moved into the City, just a mile or two from Forest Park, we girls zoomed around the neighborhood on our bikes, getting all scratched up through bushes, and up and down little hills. There was definitely gaiety involved then.|
Now, at 69, I want to do everything my body will let me do, all the things I can that feed my soul. I want to be outdoors as much as possible. I want to camp and hike and mess around creek beds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. And I want to ride my bike!
â€œNothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.â€ â€“ John F Kennedy
I hope you take as much time as you can for fun and whatever sort of adventure feeds your soul.If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems on here.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”