Notes From A Sunny Day
I went out for a Float yesterday. A Float is a ride that I take that requires that I exert absolutely no physical exertion. It is a ride involving quiet streets and trails and sidewalks. I'm going really slow and that is OK because I am also going nowhere. The main requirement for one of my Float Rides is that I have as little external stimulation as possible. Well, there are two main requirements: no exertion and no exterior distractions like threatening automobiles or chasing dogs or road debris or even beautiful scenery.
I took this ride totally unplanned. I originally set out to cruise over to the beach at a moderate pace and then ride over the Big Bridge one or two or maybe even three times because it is the only “hill” for miles around and sometimes I like to pretend I am On Tour and I am told that touring involves hills.
But The Best Laid Plans
But as I floated coasting down the gentle incline that leads from my trailer to the river, as I adjusted my glasses and wiggled my flip flops into an optimal position in the toe straps and as I prepared to turn North onto the River Road I realized I wasn't up for a ride. I just didn't feel like it. There was trouble in my soul and things I needed to get sorted out in my head (and heart) and I should go back to the Park and work out some of these damned little nuisance issues and get going.
Or you should just wander aimlessly on your bicycle and do your sorting and worrying and then go back to the Park. The Trouble at the Park is self propagating and will always be there.
“You don't think I know what 'propagating' means, do you, Voice? Well, I do.”
Don't worry, there won't be a quiz or anything. But when was the last time you did lazy figure eights in the parking lot across from City Hall?
“It's been a long time. I think I'll do that.” The City Hall in our little town of Hawks Park sits across the River Road from a big park and boat launch ramp and is surrounded by water on three sides. On a weekday there is almost no one there and back before I was a Serious Cyclist I would ride my old Tramp Steamer ('91 Mongoose Alta converted to single speed) all over the place. I was always going slow and those big tires gave a very pronounced floating effect. The Tramp is set up for a pretty upright position and has a big padded saddle and she was my daydream ride before the Big Schwinn came along. Now she mostly hangs on the wall.
Why Fight City Hall?
So I went to the big public parking lot and did some figure eights. Low and Slow and I amused myself by seeing how tight a circle I could do on my Old Ten Speed before falling over. Remember that? Remember being a kid and just Goofing Off on your bike and doing nothing except pedaling around with nowhere to go? I do. If you don't remember, go out and do a Low and Slow Float and it will come back to you. It is a necessary thing to sometimes reach inside ourselves and find that kid that could laugh out loud and to remember a time when Troubles were fleeting and life was a long and seemingly endless path that stretched out before us. A long path of hope and promise and joy.
It is a promising path when you are looking forward from youth but a tormented trail when looking back from the end of the story.
“You're just chock full o' wisdom today, aren't you Voice? But shut up. I'll do the proselytizing around here. And anyway, you're wrong. Sure, There's plenty of stuff I wish had been better, but to call my life a “torturous trail” is wrong. There were lots of good times. Like today.”
The Heart Of the Matter
By now I have left the parking lot across from City Hall and wandered into the the big old neighborhood down the street that was carved from a primeval Florida Oak Forest. What is nowadays called the Indian River was once a huge soggy swamp. The oak trees and palms that grew along the edges of this swamp had plenty of water and rich soil in which to propagate. (Ha!) Those oaks are ancient and moss-covered and the houses in that neighborhood are from a time before we cookie-cut our dwellings. They are large and individual and handsome and the sidewalks in front are made of some kind of concrete that you don't see anymore. The streets are broad and the sidewalks are empty and just right for a sunny day when a Troubled Cyclist needs to pedal around lost in thought and sorting things out and has no need for speed or destination. The Spanish moss hangs low and must be dodged; some low hanging limbs reach out for a high-five and I absent-mindedly give them one. I can wander this place all day, crawling along the sidewalk at a far faster speed than walking but pretty slow all the same.
Meanwhile, Back At the Park...
Whispering Pines Trailer Park is an old and venerable institution. It has probably always been the Worst Trailer Park In Town. I know that it is these days. After a year of working pretty hard to get things cleaned up and fixed up, I can look around me and see improvement. Where before there were crumbling wooden steps leading into dilapidated trailers, now there are neat little roofed porches of my design and installation. I have ripped out many rotten floors and walls and replaced them with appropriately inexpensive but carefully crafted repairs. Roof leaks have been fixed and fences mended and added and there have been some minor landscaping efforts. Improvement, yes, but far from anything I can qualify as satisfying.
Words To Live By
The motto of this Blogsite is “Life ain't that bad when you're happy with what you have.” There are times when I am proud of this attitude and there are other times when I see it as a cop out, a form of Acceptance of Less that could also be considered the Byline of a Loser.
But what of that? As I wander slowly through these quiet streets of fine homes with their facade of tranquility, maintaining my pace with only an occasional pedal stroke, I realize all too well that within these dwellings there is as much joy, pain and turmoil as there is inside the lowliest Trailer here at the Park. Human Life is Universal. All the rest is stage settings.
Grandpa Was A Tree Hugger
My cadence today is about six RPM and it suits me just fine. I'm not going anywhere, not anytime soon, anyway. My efforts at the Whispering Pines have been rewarded with My Own Little Corner of the Park. The heavy burden on my soul today has many sources. One is that I am Becoming Happy which has always been a sign of clouds on the horizon. There are other things going on, things that are not really my business or problem but the Problems of the Park all seem to find their way to me soon enough. But I have Me Little Darlin' to pedal slowly around this cool old town and I reach down and pat the top tube. I really do. As a writer and delusional cyclist I tend to anthropomorphize All the World. I can't help it. There is a powerful Pagan somewhere in my ancestry and I am glad for him; because of him I seek out the sounds and signs that bring me into the Here and Now. Would you rather listen to the wind in the trees or a politician? Would you prefer conversing with a squirrel or the Lady Behind the Counter? Stare at the television or the rising Full Moon?
I'm not special. We all see and hear these things. Like a listener turning the knob on an old-time analog radio, we skip many channels in search of the sound we want to hear. There are many stations to tune into.
You are being sentimental and maudlin, said the Voice.
“It's just that kind of day, Voice.”
We've Been Down This Road Before
And so it is. In the enforced Slowing Down of this damnable Recession I came to this little Trailer Park where my old friend Coyote has lived for many years. I knew about this place and when the Blonde and I found ourselves at the end of our resources and my not inconsiderable ability to dodge old creditors and scam new ones was no longer working, when all my best efforts brought us to the face of defeat I sounded a retreat, rented a little trailer and began again.
And so Here Am I, burdened with Happiness, pedaling a bicycle that I love around a town that makes me glad no matter where I look, pedaling slowly and with wonderful mindlessness around this Old Hawks Park while the voices in my head rage back and forth, sorting things out for me while I take a ride and high-five ancient oak trees and let the voices have their way up there. It takes very little effort on my part; in fact, it seems the less effort that I spend on Trouble , the more quickly It is resolved.
Enjoy your Ride, Boss. I'll let you know when we get it figured out.
“I know you will, buddy. I know you will.”
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Think Tank