Saturday, July 7, 2012

Under the Big Top




Twenty, maybe even thirty years ago, I bought a little Dahon folding bike. I am an avid bicyclist and wanted a bike I could travel with, even take on airplanes.(You know, so I could ride it up and down the aisle on those long flights....) It has little 16 inch wheels and folds into a medium size suitcase. Unfolded, it looks like a clown bike. I always feel conspicuous on it, but it rides surprisingly well for such a funny little thing.

Well, now I am in NY seeing my wonderful parents, eating out a great deal as they are true connoisseurs of the art of restauranting, and I have a broken toe. Thus, I have no way of running off all those calories and lazy gut-extending moments. I brought my little bike. I discovered yesterday that I can ride my Dahon clown bike without any pain in my broken toe.

The area where my folks live is quite hilly, but I rode for two hours along beautiful scenic route 17C. That route snakes along the river so it is flatter than most routes in the area. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw many people stop and stare at me as I rolled by. Then they looked for the elephants and tight rope walkers.
"Nope, just me," I smiled waving, "I am the circus today."

I looked even a little more ridiculous than I might have due to the fact that the Dahon doesn't have a basket or water bottle holder. So I wrapped a massive belly pack around the handlebars and wedged a bottle in that. This really disturbed my dad. He wanted me to remove that monstrosity from my sleek little clown bike.

But I need to stay hydrated so the silly clown bike was made even sillier, and the belly pack water bottle holder remained. I had a wonderful time, and passed by all my old haunts- my art studio above the movie theater, my old high school, the route I used to walk the 4 miles home from school on nice days, the little store where I would buy a pound of fudge to sustain me on the 4 mile walk home, the little Catholic church where as an agnostic teen, I once walked into and sat in a back pew and prayed. Who says you can't go home again? I was loving all the memories.

When I got back, my dad begged to go to the bike store with me and find a basket. I relented and we did find a beautiful large blue basket that matched the bike. Asherel, my handy daughter, installed the basket for me. Then we all stood back to gaze appreciatively upon the funny little bike. If anything, it looked funnier with the giant basket as big as the tiny little wheels. Today, I will ride the clown bike out to meet my brother, half way on his 15 mile ride from his village. I warned him that he must understand I had 16 inch wheels and therefore, would be going at the pace of an old chihuahua. My brother is a serious bicyclist and I felt riding with me would not be much fun for him. However, he still plans to meet me on my morning ride.

I will be packing water bottles, purse, phone, and happy memories into my big blue basket on my little folding bike. As I ride, I am certain I will see the ghosts from my past rise up like the mist on the river and I am equally certain they will be wondering, as they probably did when they knew me back then, what circus did I end up joining?

And then I will smile at the beautiful countryside, and rolling hills, and wildlife pausing to watch me roll slowly by, and thank God for the life I have had under Heaven's tent.

Psalm 16:6-8,11 (NIV)
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. [7] I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. [8] I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. [11] You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.


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