I was leaving the house today after some chores. I was walking out onto the porch, rolling my bike out like I always do, and I had the most delicious feeling, that of a breeze blowing on my arm hairs. Sounds weird right? No, I wasn’t smoking anything, that’s just how I’m built. Sensitive. I stood out there for a second, with the humid air a fair bit cooler than it had been before, listening to the breeze coming across the trees and thinking about why I love biking so much. I love biking so much because when I ride, I am always intimately aware of the planet as a living, breathing organism. The wind feels like it’s breath, like breath on skin. And what are we to that…to that planetary largess. At the time I was thinking of lice (elementary teachers are generally thinking of lice), but I’m not sure that’s it. As I got out on the road a bit and was heading down Thomas I’d decided we were more like ants in the grand scheme of the planet. Like scurrying ants rushing around with all our busy-ness and forgetting that the earth is beathing on us at every second, that grass grows and that there are whole infestations of roaches and mice, and deer and bear and the dumb squirrels (I almost hit one of those damn things again today), and even birds–today one literally stopped in flight, just feet in front of me and hovered there. It’s been a day to be in touch with the goings on of the earth during springtime, and it hasn’t left me unmoved.
I was out this afternoon riding to a fundraiser for my 24 HOB team, the Crank Mafia. Birdsong (one of our Sponsors) was donating a dollar from every beer they sold between 4-6, so I decided to ride out, even with the threat of impending rain. I did take my rain coat, just in case. I got there and started chatting with a couple of new riders–by the end of the evening, I’d chatted up two fairly new riders. Both were worried/concerned/wondering about what to do because the rain had started. It made me think back to a conversation that I had with one of our long time teachers from school who will retire this year. She asked me one day back in February what I did when it rained (it was chilly and rainy that morning). I said, without any sense of irony, “I get wet.” We chatted on for a bit in the breezeway and I just said to her, “When it’s rainy and I get wet it reminds me of how very alive I am right now, at this moment in time.”
Yesterday it was 90 degrees or more, and there was no getting away from the heat of a 28 mile afternoon. Today the rain came and there was no getting away from the 72 degrees and wetness of everything…the rain dropping on the skin of my arms, mixing with salts and oils, looking shiny, feeling slick. That’s life to me. I do agree it’s better at 72 degrees than 36, and at 36 I’d put on a raincoat. But today it felt like heaven.
So I rode home, and I was on the greenway. I hit the first underpass which had not yet flooded, and two ladies were hiding from the rain down there. There wasn’t any flooding so I continued to the second greenway, which is lower. I remember last spring I was meeting Jordan, X bike Tzar and altogether amazingly creative human, and he’d ridden his bike through the greenway flood in the rain. I of course thought he was nuts. But tonight, the second underpass was flooded, just a bit. I generally turn around, don’t drown, but tonight, I just said, “Fuck it.” I rode the flooded greenway and I laughed so much. It was deeper than I thought and I got really wet. I was reminded of the kids on Bicycle Friday who will ride through huge puddles after the rain even though it means they’ll show up a wet, muddy mess to school and I was reminded about how it used to rain in northern Illinois during the summers, these cool, fragrant downpours where my mother would send us out in bathing suits and we would just revel in it. That is how that flood water ride felt today, like me, a kid in a bathing suit enjoying the living, breathing, life on earth that we all get to live for just a moment, for just barely a second, before we are gone.