Just before I reach work there is a wavy path that runs through this greenspace in the middle of suburbia I cycle through. Imagine, if you will, it’s 4:30 (or so) AM, and it’s late fall. Though the darkness obscures the path, I have come to know it as well as the lines on my own face.
My new bike light flashes, illuminating the shadow of my elongated wheels. The wind of the ride brushes my cheeks and tickles my neck with its early morning caress.
I started cycling to work this last June, and have ridden my lovely, rambling ‘Rose’ almost every day since.
Today I ride to work not just to save money, or convenience, so much as for the freedom. That 30 minutes is like meditation. My mind is cleared of thought, as I reach that winding hill that marks the half way point.
Over the months I’ve conquered that mere incline, and never get off my bike, and trudge up, as I did at the beginning. Now, my lungs are strong, my heart pumps jubilantly in my chest as I crest it. Thump, thump, thump, breath in, breath out, and I coast for a bit, and my mind finally clears, and real joy flushes my cheeks.
Pure bliss washes through me.
If you’d told me this was how I’d be getting to work, even just last year, I would have called you a crazy ol’ coon. Me? Riding a bike to work? I don’t have the knees, my smokers lungs have been battered and bruised, my heart is not up to it, or so I thought.
Yet, in the beginning, I just hopped on and started riding. One day at a time. And every week I inched my time down, bit by bit. Day by day.
Now, 5 months on, I am devising a way in which I can continue through the winter; taking it day by day. I spoke to the friend who gave me Rose, and he has a Mountain Bike he can fix up for me. Dear Rose is too lovely, her tires too thin and delicate, to be subjected to the harshness of a Canadian Winter. I would not do that to her.
She has seen almost as many winters though as I, and spent the last 5 of them outside, subjected to the harsh elements. It rusted her gears, her chain, and some of her chrome is not what it was. So my friend polished off as much of the rust as he could, and from bits and pieces of another bike of the same vintage replaced some of the most tattered bits.
Truly, though, it is her colouring I believe that first caught my eye; being a lovely aged jade.
Last week I realized something. See, once I reach the ‘almost there’ point, I turn onto that winding path through suburbia, and every time, I look up. And there in the sky above me hangs the constellation Orion – the hunter.
This week I noticed it was now just a bit more West than it was.
Things have changed.
Now when I look at Orion, all I can see is this giant butterfly hanging in the sky. The butterfly is a symbol for Palliative Care. I realized that it hangs directly over the path, as the days made their way through those last 8 days of October. Fifteen years ago we watched my Mom die, and 4 years ago on the 18th, Tim died, and 8 days later I posted my first post to this blog.
So, as the Northern lands await the snow of winter, as the temperatures dip and I add another layer, day by day, my mythology changes. From a hunter towards the wings of change, cocooned within for so long, the darkness lengthens the night, and I ride, I glide, I look up at the stars and I am grateful.