A little bit of normalcy returned to Velophoriaville this week -- a full week of work, followed by many hours of catching up on chores around the property (cutting brush and raking leaves -- not exactly torture on a beautiful fall day). Finally, I took a couple hours yesterday to really get out there on a bike and vacate.
Six weeks of unrelenting intensity fell away. As my friend Herringbone once so aptly wrote (I'm paraphrasing here), "As soon as I got on the bike, I felt better." Miserable head colds, injuries and inactivity, four days in a chilly, dark house without power, endless tense waiting for Dad to die, hopeless wishing that he would never die, anguish over his suffering, and then the surreal visit to NYC last weekend after he passed on...
To say it all melted away is cliché: The more accurate statement is that it vanished, the moment I rolled out of the garage with an image of Atkins Reservoir, shining in the sun at the top of a dirt-road climb, crystallized in my mind's eye.
The day was untouchable, 48 degrees and clear as a bell, the shadows chilly and the sun toasty, the colors of every object -- barns, trees, meadows, tarmac -- condensed and intensified in the surreal brilliant Kodachrome autumn light. Contrast was cranked up to 11. Everything seemed cut out of brilliantly hued paper and pasted on top of everything else.
I discovered a couple of new hiking trails and some broad singletrack well-suited to the Vaya's limited off-road capacities. Farther on, I paused at the reservoir to snap a shot, breathe, and feel grateful. The silence was golden, the air was scrubbed clean.
A middle-aged, fit-looking guy ran by with his dog, and we smiled at each other knowingly: "This is as good as it gets, it's why we do these crazy things." Caught up to him further down the road and he asked about the Vaya, said he lived on one of the many dirt roads in the area and rued his purchase of an upscale road bike poorly suited to local surfaces. Gave a hearty endorsement of my bike, and rolled on for home, powered up, as always, by a friendly interaction during a ride.
Last night, a deluxe dinner at an elegantly understated Argentinian steakhouse in Northampton. Mrs. V. and I chatted and laughed as if we were still courting, charged up with delight in each other's special-ness.
Death comes. Death goes. Grief is a process we're all involved in, know it or not. Everyone falls down and hurts themselves. Bodies heal -- or they don't. Power lines collapse, bad news comes in clusters, people will be mean and stupid. But there's a lot of good in this world.
Go find some.