Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Country Ride

I took a moderately long ride today in what I call "the country."  It's only about 15 miles from where I sit when I'm typically typing something here, but it might as well be 100 miles away for its isolation from convenient sources of bread and milk.  Yes, that "bread and milk" thing is important to me, having always lived within walking distance of both, even now when what I consider to be a reasonable walking distance is much shorter than it was even ten years ago.

To be sure, I love the country, but in the same way that I love dogs.  I love other people's dogs.  I love other people's homes in the country.  I don't want a dog that lives in my home, and I don't want a home in the country, though the latter I might keep if one fell into my lap figuratively, while I most assuredly would not want the former to stick around for more than just a visit if a representative example leaped into my lap quite literally.

As is sometimes the case, there was no particular issue, thought, or problem running through my head as I rode along today; rather, the thoughts flowed from what I was seeing as I came around the next curve or topped the next rise.  My "captions" for the pictures here will be extensions of those thoughts that I remember having in the moments in which the pictures were snapped.

When I choose to visit the particular area in which I rode today, it's a simple left turn off a main thoroughfare that takes me quickly from tightly packed neighborhoods into places where there is sometimes little to see but nature itself for miles at a clip.  These boxcars provide a bit of visual relief from roadway and greenery.  The railroad right of way dates back to within a few years of the end of the Civil War and was built by the Lehigh Valley Railroad as a hub from which to distribute its main commodity, coal, from right here where it was mined in the Wyoming Valley and surrounding regions.

No matter where I go, the mountains are never far out of sight.  I remember riding home from my Uncle Joe's house after an occasional Sunday or holiday evening visit with my family and being amazed at how the moon seemed to follow the car all the way home.  So it seems the mountains follow us here in the valley, though it is we who are following them southwest to northeast not only through here, but all across Pennsylvania.

Today, as my favorite poet once wrote about, I took a road less traveled by, in this case the tired and worn one you see here beside an old church and graveyard.  Were I to retain some degree of sight and sentience beyond my interment, I'd not mind a view such as this which seems to kiss heaven itself in the distance.

This photo has potential to become one of my all time favorites.  I shot it through the window of the old church and it is somewhat ethereal with the reflection of me juxtaposed with the vastness of the sky, the linear regularity of the pews, and the windows that almost seem to provide glimpses into other worlds.

It would seem that the passage of time affects what is below and what is above in similar fashion.  Nothing is forever, least of all we who seek to be remembered long past our mortal existences.

Right outside the churchyard a left turn brings the living world back into a view that seems to go on for miles.
It is a fitting end to the time spent among the markers of those who have gone on before us.

I think I'd not mind visiting a museum that has nothing in it but pictures of simple, pastoral scenes such as this one.  Now and then I do find a spot that would quickly make that bread and milk thing seem not important at all.  If I could build a home right here on the spot from which I snapped this photo, I might.  Perhaps I could have a cow or two of my own for milk, and learn to bake a perfect loaf of bread.

There were no children to watch as I rode into Milwaukee, though at the outset of my ride, before I left the city, I heard a child on a porch cry out, "Motorcycle!" as I rode by which made me chuckle.  Of Algonquin origin, "Milwaukee" suggests a place of beauty, and pleasant land.  Indeed, this village is aptly named.

There was precisely one place of business on its Main Street, the Old Milwaukee Cafe and Bakery.  Were I a more patient sort, and not afraid of a little rain like one of my blogging heroes, Steve Williams of "Scooter in the Sticks," I'd have purchased something to eat right here in the front window and taken the time to record the treat itself for you to partake in vicariously.  I was in a little bit of a hurry at this point, though, in having remembered that the hourly forecast when I had seen it this morning showed some possible precipitation for around 1 p.m. and it was about 12:30.  I selected a thick slab of blueberry cobbler to take with me and got back on the road.

But, not before getting this shot of the quaint exterior with my trusty Piaggio posed out front.  Had I been there with the car, I might have lingered just a bit longer to soak up the sight of this place and its ambient charm.  I'll return.  It's that kind of place.

I cannot imagine, except in the same "romantic" way that I imagine the working life of a railroad engineer to be, working a farm to earn a living.  That getting up early, being one's own boss, living off the land all sounds wonderful to me on paper, but I doubt that I'd survive a single day as a working farmer.    God bless the men and women who raise our food, especially the many small farmers here in Pennsylvania who are struggling to keep their farms going for another generation.

And, God bless the internal combustion engine and all those folks who understand how such things work and keep them going for the rest of us who know little more than "turn the key, give it some gas, and go!"

A swing through McDade Park in Scranton provides this pleasant view.  The U.S. Bureau of Economic Research recently named the greater Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area among its least happy places in the country.  Happiness is what you make it, though.  As long as I can find joy in the sight of something as simple as this fountain, I don't have much to complain about in living here.

And rounding out today's trip is this final picture of the scooter posed in front of St. George's Orthodox Greek Catholic Church around the corner from Scranton in Taylor, Pa.  Though I've never been inside I find this to be one of the most beautiful churches in the area.  Its blue roof suggests that it is an extension of the sky and the Celestial Abode itself which, I suppose, is what a church of any kind should be.

My stop in front of the church was, indeed, a fitting ending to today's ride in which I was treated to so much of the visual goodness that has been put into the world for our enjoyment.  May we never lose sight of all that!


Deb said...

Lovely post! Fascinating and thought-provoking as always!

Glad to see you getting acquainted with other scooter/moto bloggers too!

They need to start reading your blog regularly if they don't already know about it!

Always interesting and fun!

Joe said...

You're too kind, but thank you, Deb. It would be nice to have a few extra readers, but most of the time I write because I feel a need to "purge" in one way or another, and I try to take advantage of the extra time I have to do that when school's out for the summer. That anybody is here to read what I pound out is icing on the cake.


kz1000st said...

I was inspired to start a blog after reading the musing of you and Paul. You introduced me to Steve and his Vespa prose. I live in the country with barns livestock in view when the leaves are down. The roads are a dream ride for my friends on Long Island and I enjoy carving corners on every trip, commute or errand.

kz1000st said...

When I lived on Long Island we would seek out roads that had some twist and curve to them. Many were only a couple of miles long. The land was mostly flat and roads were built to get there quickly. I have since moved to upstate New York were roads are built along water routes, around hills and over the hills when there was no other way. It is always a trip to ride anywhere and my scooters love the journey.

Paul Smith said...

The country is where I live and ride. Well, East Petersburg is a small town, so it still counts. And I have the small canine friend to go with it. I can't imagine life without either the home in the country or the dog. Interesting how everyone's perspective is just a little different.