Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Autumn Day

One of my favorite uncles went to school (Public school! Egads! At a time when everybody else went to Catholic School) in a building that in its day housed kindergarten through grade twelve all under the same roof. Now the corporate headquarters for a local company, it sits atop a knoll nary a block from the house in which I spent most of my formative years. I have to have driven past the front of that building tens of thousands of times in my many years of living in this same neighborhood in which I grew up, but until this morning while seeking a quiet place from which to make a call after church, I never ventured into its parking lot nor got a peek at its other side. I was stunned by its simple elegance and tickled in seeing something new, yet so very old, so close to my family home.

After lunch I took off in earnest to enjoy the beautiful day on the scooter. I passed by another old building here in the north end of the city - this one somewhat infamous in being the sweatshop in which I worked during the summer of my sophomore year of high school. I swear, that summer in the shoe factory inspired me to make the most of my high school and college years not only in studying so I'd not have to work in a place like that all my life, but in savoring the freedom of being a student and not having to earn my own living quite yet. No longer a working factory, the building is still home to a local business but its appearance is far removed from being the once proud factory in which many hard working folks earned an honest day's wage that could support a family.

Over the river and through the woods and I found myself at one of my usual haunts, the county sports complex. (Okay, not really through the woods.) Every year as the winter ever so slowly yawns itself into grudgingly showing some hints of the coming spring I look for the usual signs - a few tiny crocus heads peeking up from the sweet smelling soil, the buds aching to pop open on the pussy willow beside the deck in the back yard, and the gate to this park being unlocked and thrown open wide. I often visit on nice winter days, while the gate blocks the road into the park proper, and heave a heavy sigh upon seeing it there with its PARK CLOSED sign telling me that I'm once again being presumptuous in my wishful thinking.

The last leg of my trip took me west where old animal and Indian trails that carved naturally through the mountain that forms the western wall of the valley have become the roads we use today. While meandering up a twisty to where I was headed I noticed another cycle on my tail in the rear view mirrors. Usually I'm the one on the bike riding like a newbie, slowing noticeably where the twists get wicked, so it was with some degree of puzzlement that I noticed that I was out pacing the bike behind me. When I turned onto the side road that would take me to the picturesque setting I was riding to, the other bike followed me, and when I arrived and pulled into the parking lot I was even more surprised to see the other rider still behind me.

I rode to the far end of the lot, dropped the kickstand, and started unzipping the camera pouch when I saw the other rider park about midway through the lot near a stand of colorful trees. Only then did I notice that the other bike carried a passenger too. They both dismounted and took off their helmets and when I finally noticed their shapes and saw their long hair spilling down over their shoulders I realized that they were two young girls. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the cyclist take out a camera and shoot a picture of her bike with the pretty trees as a backdrop just as I was getting ready to do the same. The girls walked down to the water's edge and sat on a bench to enjoy the gorgeous view that autumn's paintbrush had created.

It was with regret that I decided not to approach the girls and engage them in conversation about riding, and photography, and whatever else might have come to mind. Had they been middle aged I'd have had no qualms about striking up a pleasant chat and passing some time with folks who seem to enjoy some of the same things that I do. Sadly, though, we live in a time when kids have rightly been taught to be wary and cautiously suspicious of old men with cameras. My own daughters would describe a guy like me as a "creeper" if he just came up to them and started yakking away so I wasn't going to make the day any less than perfectly pleasant for the young ladies who'd ridden in behind me. I kept my distance. I took a few pictures, savored the unique sensation of warm sun and chilly air, thanked our Maker for the scenery, and headed out.

Oh, how I hope I'll remember to look at the pictures I take on days like this one when the worst of winter is upon us and I'm feeling cabin fever to a degree that seems like it might make me hemorrhage!

I realized on today's ride that I write a lot here about the seasons - their unique offerings - their changing from one into the next. I mark and write my life, it seems, by their coming and going. I like it that way. Their coming anew each year keeps me looking forward to something all the time. Well, except for winter, perhaps. After that first dusting of snow on a windy, cold, dark night those crocuses can't bloom soon enough!

1 comment:

kz1000st said...

"It was with regret that I decided not to approach the girls and engage them in conversation about riding, and photography, and whatever else might have come to mind."

Like "Hey nice bike. What year is it?" Unfortunately what you did was continue the ongoing impression that scooter owners and motorcyclists shouldn't talk to each other. If the young ladies were on a Kymco would you have observed the "No Talking" rule? Motorcyclists don't care about age, sex or ride. My wife has been approached by numerous other bikers when she's out on her Rebel and she enjoys the discourse with them all. Bridge the gap Joe.