Easily Tickled

July 15. The mid point of summer. A beautiful day. I milk early, then ride my bike through air that’s heavy and cool from recent rain. Up the long climb to Cole’s Pond and back down, passing Louie out tending to his chickens, he’s 70 or so, still keeps a big flock with his wife Annie, still puts up square bales, and far as I know still goes surfing from time-to-time, driving to the coast and back in time for chores.  And noticing how I notice the old men more and more, maybe the way a young child observes the new adult, always looking one generation ahead for a clue of how it’ll be for us, how we might end up, and from what I can tell, Louie’s way doesn’t seem too bad. I roll through town, pass a young woman sitting on a picnic table in her front yard, smoking a cigarette over the top of a mask that’s pulled down just far enough for the task. Up Schoolhouse Road, past the clothing optional campground, trying to look like I’m not looking (but I’m not, really!), and then to the very top of the mountain where the God is Love sign has disappeared since last I was here, which is somehow disappointing to me, even if I’m not actually 100% certain that God is Love, though it seems as at least plausible as anything else I can imagine, and a whole lot more comforting, too.

Looking back, I see this is the fourth post in a row I’ve mentioned riding my bike. I’ve been enjoying riding my bike; I rode a lot in my younger days, miles and miles and miles, in sun and rain and even snow, and it’s been nice getting back into the rhythm of it. I like the way it makes me feel, tired and exhilarated at once, and the way it brings me up close to the world. I can’t finish a ride without stopping to chat with at least one person or another, even on these quiet back roads, and I can’t go a mile without passing something that tickles my fancy, though it’s true that my fancy is easily tickled.

In addition to riding my bike, I’ve been reading a bunch, and heartily recommend the following. I’d love other suggestions in the comments! Hope everyone’s doing well as can be.

The Overstory, by Richard Powers

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (an all time favorite)

In the Fall and Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent (two other all time fave’s)

The Adventurer’s Son, by Roman Dial





In the rain, I move fence for the cows. The grass is tall and heavy with seed, bent on its stalk. My jeans are wet through and my socks have slid down deep into my boots, where they are bunched and uncomfortable and I’d stop to pull them up but it’ll only happen again. The rain feels good. It’s been so dry for so long I’d forgotten how good rain can feel.

I finish the fence, let the cows onto the new grass. Their coats are sleek in the wet and because I’m done working and getting cold, I imagine the radiating warmth of them from dozens of feet away.

The rain is slowing. Later, I go for a bike ride and pass an old woman tending her tomatoes, they’re planted in big, ugly, plastic tubs, but the plants themselves are beautiful, tall and newly lush from the rain, and the woman herself is beautiful, the way she’s bent to the plants, grey hair across her face, so focused on her task she doesn’t notice my passing, though I could almost reach to touch her. Maybe she’s hard of hearing. Maybe she doesn’t care.

The road tilts downward. My tires throw flecks of mud high into the air; it plasters my shins, paints a stripe up my back. It’s going to rain some more, I can tell. But maybe, if I pedal fast enough, I’ll beat it home.