A couple of Sundays ago I woke up feeling a little blue. My problems were the usual stuff of those who have no real problems. I had now been living with my belongings dispersed through the house as if by a maniac for many weeks. Since my bedroom floor was now rough concrete, I was stepping in little grains of cement every time I went in my bathroom. Between the workmen tramping in and out and having our extant bedroom furniture placed willy nilly in other rooms, trying to clean or organize was out of the question. I felt cheated because I had slept late and now my husband thought it was too late to ride bikes. Also, I had determined that only about five people were reading my blog. That was the real rub.
I contemplated this last opinion while I sat outside with my coffee. There was no doubt that I was feeling sorry for myself, and it was up to me to change the situation. Had I written what I wanted? Yes. Had I been satisfied with it? Yes. If a blogger writes a post in the forest, and the animals can’t read, is it a real blog post? I didn’t know, but I did know this mood was not going to fly. What could I do, I mused, to take care of myself right now and avoid the steaming morass of self pity that was lurking just over my left shoulder?
I knew! I knew! I was going to take my own self on an adventure! Quickly, before my brain could give me instructions otherwise, I threw on some bicycling clothes and smeared sunscreen on my face. “You’re going all by yourself to Shelby Farms?” inquired my husband as he checked my bicycle tires. “Yep,” I replied, sliding my cell phone into my sports bra. “Maybe it would be easier to leave the phone at home,” he suggested. “Nope,” I replied.
I knew why he’d said that. A few years ago while we were riding together I had tried to fish my phone out of my bra while riding. I wasn’t having any trouble until he came up behind me offering suggestions while I tried to answer the phone and stop the bike at the same time. Thanks to his “help” I pulled on only one brake, causing me to be thrown over the handlebars and onto the pavement, watching my cell phone clatter down the street.
Today I wasn’t going to get caught up into his fears that I would again answer the phone while biking. His fears were going to have to be his own problem. This bike ride was going to be all about me, Baby.
In five minutes I was pedaling down my driveway, free as I had felt on a Saturday morning in second grade after I had dusted the piano and been allowed outside to play. As a child I regularly biked for hours around our neighborhood. It was the same now except I had a helmet and could go as far as I wanted. How could it be that I rode my bike so seldom? Well, for one thing it is often hotter than Hades where I live, I reminded myself, making it necessary that bike riders, along with walkers, runners, and gardeners , start their activities at dawn or not at all. Today, however, the temperature was tolerable and the humidity low.
My general destination was Shelby Farms, a 4500 urban park close to our home. In recent years a conservancy has made major improvements in the park including turning an unused railroad track into a Greenline to help connect citizens to the pleasures within. The part that will extend to my neighborhood is not yet built, so, alone with my thoughts , I took backroads for about 6 miles until I crossed into the park.
The park is split by a major thoroughfare. I rode into the south side which contains, among other things, a farmer’s market and an RV park. I rode beside the RV park, wondering what it would be like to have one, and to pull up to a campsite in the middle of the city to spend the night. After reading a mystery series in which the heroine drove an RV, I mentioned it would be fun for me to tool around in one. This idea was just too much for the man who is afraid for me to take my phone on a bike ride. He sputtered about how hard it would be for me to maneuver, how I lack depth perception ( which is true) and the costs of gas. Mostly I think he was afraid he would come home and find an RV in our driveway. What does he think I am, I asked myself as I cleared the RV area. Impulsive?
Beyond the Rv area I rode on some narrow and some wide trails past the solar farm area and an enormous mulch making facility before cutting up closer to the road. I was close to my specific destination: the sunflowers.
Every year the park plants a large field of tall sunflowers which can be seen from the major thoroughfare. Countless children are taken there by their parents to pose for pictures among the flowers. Engagement photos are taken there as well. Maybe some people even cut some flowers to take home. I had always wanted to visit the sunflowers during their brief season, but until today I never had.
I dismounted and took out my camera. Rows and rows of sunflowers stood before me, just like a corn maze. I found an opening and tromped in, taking care not to get too close to some families nearby who were photographing their children. As I admired all the yellow and gold loveliness, I overheard parents admonishing their children to stop crying and smile for the camera. A Labrador Retriever was being urged to stand beside a recalcitrant child.
Nevertheless, it was a peaceful place. I could hear but not really see the traffic. And within the rows was a a magical feast of golds, yellows and greens. The sky was somewhat overcast, but the colors shimmered for me. Deep within the rows, unseen by any human eye, I stood perfectly still. All around me the bees buzzed and lit on flowers, while butterflies chased one another from bloom to bloom. Everywhere I looked a sea of sunflowers faced the sun. Even the backs of their necks were beautiful to me.
How long did I stay? I stayed until I decided to leave. Somehow the warmth and simplicity of the sunflowers restored my equilibrium. As I eventually pedaled away, I heard myself say to me, “You may have just five readers, but they’re QUALITY readers!” That made me laugh out loud. Yes, I was out on an adventure that day, and I wasn’t going by the specifications of others. I would follow the sun in my own way.