Off the Bike but Still Traveling

by Diana Rankin

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The sun was bright, the sky blue and the clouds white and puffy. It was a good day for a ride, but since the motorcycle spill a few years ago my rides have turned into drives, and dropping off the recycling is as good excuse as any. So I loaded up GC (my Golden Chariot Rave 4) with empty bottles and used up paper and headed up to the nearest recycling drop-off.  I felt a little guilty not taking the dogs, but with all the filled up recycling buckets there wasn’t room, so I patted each on the head and promised a long walk in the woods when I got back home.

            I love these country roads with the long S-curves and unknown adventures waiting on the other side. After dropping off the recycling, I turned away from home, heading to places not yet explored. I drove past barren fields and over rivers and streams no longer frozen with winter’s cold, but with the promise of spring soon coming.

            After a while I stopped for lunch by the lake. It was late for the lunch crowd so the sandwich shop was quiet. Beside it was still too cold for the summer crowd. It’s the best time to be at the lake, after the ice and snow have gone and before the summer folks arrive. I live just far enough away to not be part of either the winter community or summer one. It’s not my place of belonging. I too am a visitor, maybe even more so than the people who spend their summers here. They know their neighbors and the lake in a way I don’t. I’m just an occasional visitor who walks the dogs on the lake paths or spends lazy days with friends on a pontoon. And I used to ride my motorcycle around the lake.

            I wandered on the way back home the way I used to on the bike, riding down country roads that called out to me, beckoning me to see what’s on the other side of the hill or around the next bend. It’s not as much fun in GC, but it’s certainly a lot warmer – and safer. I miss the bike, miss riding the back roads to places unknown and finding those unknown places within myself. But I’m in the car now, held protected by GC’s steel and metal instead of the wind.

            There’s a difference between wandering on a motorcycle and in a vehicle, and for a moment I gave in to nostalgia. The road curved around family farms and past creeks overflowing with spring’s thaw. I passed a horse-drawn wagon, the Amish driver standing with the reins in his hands while hunching into the wind and early spring’s chill. I knew what that felt like, but unlike the farmer with no protection, I had had a windshield and leathers and the heat of the bike’s engine for some warmth. Still, like the farmer, I often hunched against the wind, wanting to be on the ride, but cold as all get out. I looked down at the temperature gage on GC’s dashboard – 46 degrees. Suddenly the heated seats and well-working heater felt mighty good. Mighty good indeed.

© 2014 Diana Rankin

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