We did not have bicycles growing up. i don't know why our parents were so afraid of them, but they were. I haven’t had many as an adult, either. It's not that I'm afraid. In fact, I love riding my bike. But I’m not very good at it, either. I have no sense of balance. Never have. I fall with surprising frequency. One of my favorite bike memories is from about a decade ago, when I was in my late forties (just to underscore that I was older and supposedly more dignified). I’ll always remember our elder son’s horrified expression as my shoelaces got tangled in my spokes and my bike and I fell sideways, pretty much in slow motion, pretty much in the middle of the road. I start laughing every time I think of it. It was a rural neighborhood, at least, and I only got a little scraped up.
You can understand, then, that when I send my children photos to show that I am, indeed, doing more than gardening in the great outdoors, I gleefully refer to myself as “The Mad Rider”.
Ever since my brother gifted me with a new bicycle my last birthday, I’ve been trying to ride more often in hopes of falling less. To that end, another favorite bike memory is our granddaughter giving me bike riding lessons earlier this year. Such a little sweetheart.
This morning, since it was one of those winter days in southeast Texas that resembles an iconic spring day, I was eager to “take to the road”.
My thoughts were on Wordsworth. I’ve been listening, on and off, to Jan Karon’s Mitford series – so beautiful – and Father Tim is always quoting that wonderful poet. I decided that I would read one of his poems at each stop.
My bike rides are most definitely recreational and would count as exercise only in the broadest sense of the word. Considering my grace and skill (ahem), that is surely more than enough. I do it because I enjoy it.
And I hope that you also do things you enjoy – for the sheer pleasure of doing them.
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis a privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgements, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor the greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all we behold
Is full of blessings.
--William Wordsworth --
Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tineturn Abbey,
On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour ,
July 13, 1798
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran
From me to you with a smile.
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