Monday, September 12, 2016

Late Summer Musings

A single yellow leaf hit the windshield on the bike this afternoon as I made my way through Harding on a leisurely ride toward Tunkhannock.  Although the first of September was the beginning of what the weathermen call “meteorological autumn” I think it was that leaf going splat and then sliding off the side of the shield in the slipstream that finally got me to admit that summer’s just about near its end.  

Well, that and that I almost returned to the house when I was about a mile out to change into long pants and to slip on a light jacket.  I did come back to switch out my glasses which were annoying me, but at that point something inside me refused to give in to the nagging sense that I was going to be cold by the end of the ride.  I’m glad that I ignored that concern because what I’d feared was going to be a chilly adventure turned out to be merely cool in just my tee shirt and shorts.  I believe today’s the first time that I ever made a distinction between cool and chilly, the difference being that cool isn’t really uncomfortable while chilly definitely is. 

I decided somewhere between leaving the house and heading north that I’d ride toward Tunkhannock along Route 92 which would take me through Harding along the western side of the Susquehanna River.  It was a gorgeous day for such an undertaking with the sun shining brightly for me to have to reach for the clip on sunglasses and the air, as already mentioned, being a wonderfully perfect degree of cool. 

As is the case with much of the scenery here in “da valley,” Rte. 92 is dotted with reminders of King Coal that once fed the bellies of many of the valley’s families whose daddies worked in the mines.  This building is beside the concrete remains of a railroad overpass, perhaps having been some sort of station where train crews might have swapped out their duties.   

And this tunnel leads through the remains of the trestle that connected the tracks that ran over the road decades ago.  Were there somewhere to park the scooter other than on the rubble and gravel that kisses the road there, and if I were able to walk better than I do these days, I might venture through to see what’s on the other side.  

Because I need to take a diuretic for my cardiac problems this Rent-A-John was a very welcome sight out there in the virtual middle of nowhere.  Although there are a few businesses along the run of Rte. 92, they’re garages and other sorts of places that aren’t open on Sundays.  A big thanks to Frontier Communications on whose property it’s set.  

The eastern wall of the valley can be seen in the distance with the river just behind the trees on the other side of the road from me.  The scooter has given me such a different perspective on so many things, one of them being how life here in the valley is sort of “boxed in” by those opposing mountainous walls.  Most of my rides are simply up and down the length of the valley, though on different roads and byways.  Although I’ve gone west a few times I’ve not much ridden out east.  I’ll have to think about that!  

This remains one of my favorite waypoints on 92, where this tree appears as though it might have grown apart as it has to let the wires run through it.  That, and that the house at its base is one of those places that seems like it would be so cozy inside.  I’m not sure why some places just give me that feeling like they’d be a happy home to anybody, but this one does and I never ride past it without a wistful smile on my face.  

Likewise, old school buildings and the like draw me to them.  Although I remember my elementary school days with the nuns as not having been particularly pleasant, somehow I think in reality they must have been a lot better than I remember them as having been.  So odd that I returned to that same building as a teacher only eleven years after getting out of it, and staying there as a teacher for 24 years till it was closed.  But, I digress.  This building had that rustic school appeal to it so I had to give pause for a bit just to check it out.  

Along a right turn from 92 that I’d never noticed before I discovered a neat little neighborhood that almost seems cut off from the rest of the hustle and bustle of nearby things.  With a neighborhood deli, a post office, and a church, I could imagine being happily snuggled in any of a number of the inviting looking homes there through a wintry cold spell or snowstorm.  The river looks a lot nicer here than it does as it runs through Wilkes-Barre where it always looks brown and dirty.  

Although being out on any sort of boat for this non-swimmer is a very rare thing, there’s something about it that never fails to look appealing.  I’d imagine being in a light craft like one of these would be somewhat like riding the scooter with plenty of time for introspection and taking in things about the world that one often just doesn’t otherwise.  

I see the river a lot in my scootering because of my tending to ride north and south within the confines of the valley walls and somehow in spite of my not being a water person it calls to me in some primordial way.  I never tire of stopping just to watch it run its course and it invariably causes me to feel something ineffable that’s good.  

When I cross the river in Falls, Route 92 continues north to Tunkhannock, but there’s more of a “wildness” about it.  The twisties are plentiful and to anybody on two wheels the ride is a lot more fun from the sheer fun of riding perspective.  No more looking at homes in rustic settings and thinking about how hospitable they might be inside; just the sheer joy of leaning into the turns and feeling that likeness to being at an amusement park that makes two wheeled motoring exhilarating.

The roads closest to the Susquehanna, on both the eastern and western sides, often have the wall of a mountain on one side of the road with a set of railroad tracks between the road itself and the river.  The tracks around here closest to the river don’t see a lot of use these days, but some of the local short lines still run a few cars here and there, now and then on them.  I was surprised today when just on the other side of the trees you can see to my left a small freight train went blazing through.  I don’t typically get to see trains there as I do out my own back window every day when the trees aren’t full with their summer coats.  

This roadside stand in Tunkhannock, now on Route 6, was another reminder that fall is just around the corner.  Facebook is full of posts from former female students of mine who are all excited about pumpkin spice flavored everything, hoodies, hay rides and such, and while I love the fall and all of that myself, I don’t like that it’s the doorway to winter, and after the very mild winter we had last year, I’m fearing that this year’s might be brutal.  

I hadn’t thought about meal times at all when I headed out, but halfway between the bridge and Tunkhannock itself I started feeling ravenous.  A quick stop at the Burger King coming out of Tunkhannock along Route 29, and then a quick jaunt a mile or so back to the tracks and river where there’s a pleasant little park, and I enjoyed a quiet and most pleasant lunch alongside the river.  As I was heading back to the scooter a couple in an SUV stopped to ask me some scooter questions which I’m always happy to answer.  I wonder if anybody who’s ever stopped to talk to me about the bike went out and got one as a result of my singing the praises of scootering? 

I’m so easy to entertain!  Something as simple as a place named “Whistle Pig” gives me a grin that’s probably much wider than is warranted.  I can’t help it, though.  When I’m on the scooter I’m just in the kind of mood that makes such things so easy to appreciate.  There’s a kind of joy in riding that I’ll never be able to express.  William Byrd who put his pen to paper in a lifetime spanning the later 15th and earlier 16th centuries wrote a piece that was set to music and performed by the chorus in college of which I was a part.  It ends with, “Since Singing [sic] is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing.”  That’s how I feel about scootering!   

A selfie at my last stop along the way home at the “Twin Stacks” in Dallas, has me looking more like a biker than a scooterist.  Well until anybody might stop and see the cute cartoon squirrel on my shirt.  

I have to say that I don’t really know why sometimes months go by between my writings here.  I’m always riding when the weather is conducive to enjoying it, but my want, desire, need, impetus to write just isn’t there at times.  I used to joke with my kids in school who’d try to argue “writer’s block” when they couldn’t get started on an assignment and ask them rhetorically, “What if your house was flooding and the plumber said he couldn’t help you because he had plumber’s block?” or “What if you were dying and needed emergency surgery to save you, but the surgeon threw up his hands and cried, ‘Surgeon’s block!’?”  But, then again, my writings here aren’t assignments with due dates; they’re just scattered notes about how good life is that I make when I’m so disposed.  Thanks for reading!

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