Monday, October 26, 2009

A Thread Runs Through It

I had originally planned a post called Autumn: Gone In 60 Seconds, but then again, I was planning a post prior to that having to do with time and places. You know, when you find yourself in a place that you’ve occupied at some previous time in your life, (in my case so long ago that it could have been a previous lifetime … or several previous life times!) And then, before that I was thinking about a post to describe how I have been so incredibly busy that I just haven't had the time to write all these great blog posts. Now that surely would have been a real flashing fluorescent nudie girl crowd stopper, eh? Oh yeah, writing about how one has been too busy to write, that’s the ticket.

But as I was recovering Sunday from a ride

that was harder than I planned (on Saturday) my mind was plugging along in the 29X12 and I was just crawling toward the summit of Reminiscence Pass (I took a little detour out to Semiconscious Dozing Overlook on the way) and concluded that it might be possible to just touch the high points of some of these ideas instead of storing them away in the wate basket that is my memory ‘for later posting’.

Busy doing what?
Well in fact mostly busy earning a pay check. My job has kicked into high gear, so much so that I have actually not been able to get it done just during work hours. Not all bad because I have also been doing a lot of traveling (for work) and well, it’s either lay on the lumpy motel bed and watch re-runs of Hawaii Five Oh or peck away at the blue screen of death. Sure I could head down to the mildewy ‘fitness room’ but something about that rusty Schwinn Airdyne with the one handlebar that does not go forth-and-back just turns me off.

All that jet setting around in a government car has put me in lots of obscure places in the state and it is always a little surprising when I tell people “You know, I lived here for a year, (or a summer) about 26 years ago”. More surprising for me maybe than for them. But a late night moonlit walk with the wind blowing the leaves off the trees makes my memory of these places I once lived come screaming back into such sharp focus that it is almost as if 10 or 20 years have not gone by. I visited places I lived in the mid 80’s, then the mid 70’s, and in one instance even back to 1967! Fall does that to me anyway, but add in an old haunt, on a fall evening when I can hear the dry grass rattle in the night wind and I go all moody.

Seeing Friend Kent’s long distance food post, and Robert's discovery of what you find when you take a closer look between the cellophane wrapper and the styrofoam portion tray, reminded me of some fun long rambles I have been on and how much of an impression The Omnivore's Dilemma had on me when I read it. So much so that after I read it I brought it to the big ol' family reunion book swap, and then there I am, smiling among all the relatives I never see except for that biennial (or there abouts) family get together at my sisters farm in Oregon.

It also reminded me that Mrs. C and I are actually on our own health quest. A close friend told me a personal tale about his success in the battle of the belt line while we talked casually at the SIR annual club meeting. He followed up with some details and I followed up with a little investigation: So far even though at first blush I thought out loud “This probably isn’t for me” (it's mostly vegetables) I’m 10 pounds down and not really feeling the victim. My inner skeptic is struggling to come back with a snappy retort to the “There may be something here!” challenge from the wimpy little inner optimist.

Kent’s prior Roslyn post really hit me right between the two remaining brain cells. All the pics reminded me of possibly the best 10 year stretch of my life so far. I went from a single guy with a VW, a shotgun, a hunting dog, and a glove box full of traffic tickets to a husband, a father of four, and home owner. Well in Roslyn you are not so much a home owner as a care taker and maintenance supervisor. I became an every day working Joe, a soccer and little league coach, with hopes and bills and an old drafty house, two houses actually. One of those photos is a square on shot of a house we lived in, filled with drafty winter breezes, stifling summer heat, heavily laced with the scent of the coal smoke of the previous two generations of dwellers, all wrapped up in layer upon layer of sweet (and bittersweet) memories. Ask me if I didn’t sit staring dumbstruck at the dope scope for a few moments (it’s fall, I get moody, remember?) But great writing Kent, thanks for the memories.

When I saw friend Amy’s post it instantly reminded me of our Saturday ride. With a couple friends, John and Brian, we re-rode our Dart route (soon to be a 208K perm!). My thinking was I wanted a decent ride, but didn’t want a long drive to get there; otherwise I would have joined my rando pals on the Three Rivers Cruise. I also thought I had done reasonably well on that Dart and now that I am feeling a little better it might be interesting to check my time. Like Amy, I felt like every time the pedal came around the bottom of the stroke I was dipping into tar. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great ride but I was surprised how hard it was and how much MORE time it seemed to take me. Part of it must be that there is a lot less daylight at the end of October than there is in the middle of September.

Then I noticed friend Geoffs post and thought how could we have visited so many of the same places and not have at least glimpsed each other? We might have been in the same place at the same time, but if we were it was probably that those guys looked like a blur on an old daguerreotype while we looked more like street sculptures.

The weather?
Well that‘s a no brainer, everyone with even a passing interest in being off the couch and out the door sometime this weekend knew with fair certainty that Saturday was the day and Sunday might not be. Here at Rocky Acres we had a really glorious farewell to fall on our Saturday ride. It started off like this:

Sunny but cold. We saw a bunch of those brown and black caterpillers, then I noticed this little guy .

He was orders of magnitude slower than the wolly worms. His planned crossing of state Hwy 6 seemed doomed. I gave him a quick trip to the tall grass. It was long sleeves all day but not a drop fell from the sky.
Sunday those boisterous freeloaders from the North Pacific began arriving, and by Monday morning it was very cold, very rainy, and very windy. This was not that playful ‘brisk’ gust that gets you thinking in September, it was the first low blow that the battle with winter delivers, replete with warnings of heavy snow in the passes. This was clearly Autumn to Winter in 32 Hours.
I think we all know that the change of seasons is not like walking through a door from one room to another. But sometimes it is a little like that swinging door that separates the kitchen from the dining area in the restaurant. Every so often it swings wide and you get a big gust of whatever is on the other side, then it sort of swings back and forth to close again, but even so, it’s never exactly the same after that happens.

This gave me a nervous tic during my cold dark, wet, blustery (read typical rainy season) drive to work Monday morning. It’s October, almost November and thus about a month off from the anniversary of our last two ‘Rain on Snow’ events. I make a conscious effort not to think about flooding, but on days like Monday morning, I'm thinking about what’s on the floor in the garage, or out in the shop. (I hate this part!)

So where is the thread that runs through all this? Well in hindsight, maybe it’s more like a fabric, that is composed of all my friends, all their activities, all the various iterations of similar but unique doings we are all wrapped up in, and maybe I’m just one tiny thread in the fabric that, when viewed from the summit of Mt Remembrance looks like an interesting tartan plaid.

But I’m too busy to actually try to describe the pattern or colors, you’ll have to ride up here and have a look for yourself.

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