Later in the day, snow still falling, I drive a mile down the road to borrow a wheelbarrow, then another two miles to buy a beer. The roads are slick; the ruts beneath the snow are frozen, pulling at the truck. I drive slowly, in part for safety, and in part because I feel no urgency. The snow and cold have sapped my energy like a low-grade fever.

Near the Bend, idling down a steep grade, I come upon two boys on bicycles, riding uphill through the unplowed snow. The older one is in the lead, he’s 13, maybe 14 years old, standing on the pedals, weaving against the pitch, leaving deep set tracks. The younger one is 100-feet behind him, and as I watch, he dismounts his bicycle and begins to push. I roll down my window and yell “looks like fun!” which I immediately regret because it sounds just like something a 46-year old man would yell at a couple of kids riding their bikes in the snow, but they’re polite enough to flash smiles, and I watch them in my rear view mirror after I pass.

A few minutes later, heading home,  I pass them again, now at the bottom of the hill, and I realize they’d been riding up for the sole purpose of riding down, for the sheer novelty of it, and for the remainder of my short drive, I imagine how good it must felt to fly down that hill, snow in the face, wheels slipping and catching, slipping and catching, the risk of falling always close at hand. The way the risk of falling always is.


12 thoughts on “Continued”

  1. You may claim to be forty-six, but it seems like six is more honest ! ! (Never lose that “Ben spirit!”)

  2. You’re such an “over-thinker” LOL! But that’s what makes you cool and a good writer. I’m an over-thinker but I’ve finally figured out most people like a positive comment no matter how banal it is. You go Ben!

    Also I subscribe to this: Youth can come and go but immaturity can last forever. And I mean that in the best way possible!

  3. I liked your 2 youth series here, Ben. Thank you for sharing that. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about that freedom, the freedom we feel as kids exploring with friends, the freedom on a bike agaist the wind gust, the freedom on a ledge of the mountain, teeter tottering, the freedom of saying what we want and not worrying about being judged, the freedom of faling in love, making bad jokes, diving in a river. Then later on we forget to talk about and file it away. I am glad you carry it in you. 🙂
    Best wishes to you all and hope spring catches up there soon as well.

    1. I often comment to my better half “What if…” adults acted with the abandon that kids do? Like I’m having a bad day so I lay on the floor of the supermarket and have a tantrum. Or march around in the rain stomping and singing in loud, joyful voice? Why do we have to be so dignified?

  4. How many times I have bitten my tongue like that! But really, how much better to engage even awkwardly, don’t you think? Hope Spring shows itself soon up there – and here too for that matter.

  5. Sometimes I find myself saying ‘old coot’ shit like that too. You hear it coming out of your mouth and wonder who it is? Cuz I’m still 20 and I don’t know who the hell is saying it.

  6. I’m glad that you gave them your encouragement and would have done the same myself. I think hesitating to do so would have been being too much of a grown-up. Children (at least, young children) never hesitate to comment on what someone else is doing. Their lack of an edit button is very refreshing, I think. They just don’t seem to hesitate going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I like your truck” or “Want to run around with me?” (or, maybe, it’s just my children?) Even when they say something that might be a bit off, they don’t seem to be intentionally unkind just very honest. Wish we could say the same for adults. The manipulation and guarded tone you hear in so much grown-up conversation can be so sad! When it comes to encouraging or complimenting or just casually engaging others, I think we would do well to learn from the example of children. I think those children on the bikes understood your motivation when you spoke to them and appreciated it. Besides, who wouldn’t think you are cool? 🙂

  7. the last time my wheels slipped, two weeks ago today, there was no subsequent “catching”. Thus, the fun can be over in a hurry. And Tegaderm is a good product!

  8. Kids riding bikes in your neighborhood! Do you realize how rare that is these days. Well maybe not in rural VT, but in “rural” CA it is rare to unknown.

  9. Is Winter finally over for you?

    It was in the low 70s last week, then we have sleet, snow, and freezing rain on Saturday and Sunday, with a forecast of temperatures in the 50s this week. Both annoying and damned hard on the hungry robins too.

    1. Nope. More snow and ice over the weekend, now just cold. It’s starting to feel like a slog…

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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