I Think It’s True

Restless and unsure of anything, not anything at all, I ride my bicycle in the dark to the top of the mountain. There, I stash my bike behind a clump of small spruce and hike deep into the woods; the night is warm and spooky, the air thick and tangible, the trees dripping from an earlier shower. But the moon shows intermittently, and by the time I’ve returned to my bike, the sky is clearing rapidly, the temperature dropping quick. I ride back down the mountain road fast as possible, trying and failing to outrun the cold, my headlamp punching a small hole of light that I’m constantly riding into but never emerging from, and rounding the sweeping corner I whoop loudly, suddenly so grateful for the speed and the cold and the simple fact that no matter what happens – with the election, with the economy, with the pandemic, with anything, really – there remains the possibility of riding a bicycle downhill in the dark, forehead so cold it hurts, fingers so cold they hurt, cheeks so cold they hurt, and maybe it’s a cliche, but isn’t it true that sometimes it takes a little discomfort to remind us just how lucky we are to be alive?

Well, yes. I think it’s true.


Good to be Prepared

I drive home from Minnesota, where I’ve been visiting an old friend, helping him on the house he’s building deep in the forest, two miles up an unmaintained track. We work on the roof, and every so often I pause to take in the view of Lake Superior. The shore is miles away, but the lake is vast in an oceanic way, the horizon line where water meets sky feels like the end of something too big to fathom. We move fast and accomplish much, and I leave satisfied, ready for the long ride home, straight across the middle of America, where grain grows right to the edges of interstate and big trucks accompany me through the night.

Back home the leaves are mostly down. The streams run low and quiet. The cows graze the last grass. Everything seems to hang in the balance, suspended between seasons, the gentle one that’s soon to pass, and the harder one that’s soon to come. I try not to think about it much. Today I’ll go outside, run some fence, help my son change over his summer tires for winters. There’s no snow in the forecast. But it’s good to be prepared.