14 September 2008

Living in the now

For the past month or so, I’ve been reading a lot of posts about the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Some have noted the brevity of summer and have been fretting the number of rides that are left in the season before the temperatures plummet and the snow begins to fall. I admit that those same thoughts have been rattling around in my mind as well.

I have never really put my bike to bed in the winter months; usually the weather during that time of the year is mild enough for me to steal a ride at least a couple of times a month; Last year wasn’t really one of those “mild winters”. Perhaps that is why summer seems to have come and gone so quickly for me. Usually, as the season’s age, I find myself looking forward to the change, that hasn’t been the case this year, not with summer at least.

The long winter of last year found me a number of times stuck on either the “at home” or the “at work” end of my commute with a closed road blocking the way to my destination. That’s never happened in all of the years that I have spent out here on the Palouse. By the time spring finally arrived, I was worn out, almost everyone around here was. Our spring didn’t help that much either; cold and rainy and generally miserable, there was even a dusting of snow and frost in June (another first for me around here)! I wasn’t ready for summer to end, not yet, and that’s a shame, because autumn is my favorite time of year.

Round barn on the Palouse

I awoke this morning to the usual ritual of what has become my alarm clock on the weekends, which is a 90 lb. German shepherd bouncing on my bed like “Tigger” taking playful random bites at whatever part of my body resists. There is no “snooze” button on this alarm clock other than getting up and getting a start on the morning. The interesting part of this alarm clock is that usually once I have finished my shower and have begun my normal morning routine, Flicka (that’s the name of said alarm clock) usually lies down and takes a nap, go figure.

With the chores of my morning routine complete, I geared up for a ride. As I started dressing for the ride, somewhere in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking of how many of these perfect mornings remained and all of the things that I had left to complete on my “to do” list, decking, fencing, yard work, painting, how soon would my truck get out of the paint shop to begin doing some of this heavy stuff, things like that.......... All of this needs to be done before the snow flies, the brisk morning air serving as a reminder that my days are limited.

Throwing my leg over the bike and giving the transmission a gentle stab into first gear, all of those concerns wander off.

We settle into a mild canter, my bike and I, weaving our way through the quiet roads of the Palouse. All around me are shades of brown, yellow and green; some of the shades are of fields of recently harvested wheat while others are fields still waiting to be reaped; some will lay fallow for a season, giving them a chance to rest, and a few are freshly sewn in tight rows. Throughout the ride, my bike, as always, doesn’t complain; she thumps a steady cadence down the highway.

In her own special way, without words, without any language at all except for providing me with the experience of the cool September air rushing by and the sun riding a little lower in the sky, casting longer shadows on the buttes and valleys and the occasional scent of soil recently turned over by the farmers plow, she conveys the importance of living in the present.

Paraglider sailing the Autumn wind
beneath me.

In her eloquence, she reminds me that it is the ride we are on, this one now; no thoughts of yesterday’s commutes or concerns of tomorrow’s imminent storms, it is about the two of us in the present and enjoying the birth of yet another Autumn.

My bike and the way she keeps me in the present moment, she is special that way, perhaps all bikes are.

Realize deeply that the present moment

is all you ever have.

Eckhart Tolle

Ride well.