my bicycle love story

is one of pain, forehead stitches, decades-old scars,
of broken ribs and countless bloody road rashes;

of loss, of bicycles left in foreign countries with familiar friends,
a collaged german monster left with Shigeru in Kanagawa,
a fifteen-year-old Specialized with Osupet in Uganda,
still the nicest bike in a town where everybody who has the money to own a bike bikes,
and no one has heard of an aluminum frame;

it's a story of childhood, a never-ending childhood that's almost
made its way into a third decade, grinning like a fool in rush hour traffic,
whistling down deserted midnight streets, playing guitar even,
done with work and friends but not with life or its wonder;

a story of freedom--from chores when i was a kid, from family when i was a teenager,
from society when i was old enough to sell the car, from helplessness
when i was abroad, and always from the tyranny of two feet;

a story of being the change in the simplest ways possible,

and always a story of love--for health, for friends, for travel, for freedom,
for this earth and all of us who live here, including you and i.


heavy laid

from the start i knew this was going to be a peach to savor: the way the fuzz balled under my palm, the way the juice welled up at the first touch of my teeth, cool and sweet. it was magic. better yet, the farmer who sold it to me said it'd been picked that morning--as fresh as could be, local and organic. on a hot summer's afternoon. mmmm.

so i laid my bike down and took a seat of the curb, a few feet from the steamy mainstream of farmer's market traffic, intending to enjoy my peach fully. this was, after all, the moment for which someone or ones had so painstakingly cared for this fruit from a simple green bud in spring to the invitingly heavy orb in my hand, at the peak of ripeness. how could i eat it with less than full attention?

nonetheless, the market was a riot of peoples and foods, little girls with their dads, 50something lesbians sampling roasted almonds, hippies from the hinterlands come to town to sell their crops. above all, beautiful women, in all the varieties a health-conscious university town can supply. strolling this way and that...

the fruit. right. sweet melange of orange and pink, i let it rest in my sight a moment, then laid my teeth where they'd first broken the surface, and drew them down through the flesh to the fattest part of the peach, juicy meat rolling on my tongue a moment before my mind caught up, neurons themselves tongue-tied trying to communicate the flavor.

they were nevertheless eloquent.

a second bite, this time sinking down to the core, delightfully cool and solid under my teeth, peach flesh pulling back to expose a section of dark red pit, like a dirty secret under all that fleshly armor. pushing my tongue through the cross-section of flesh i took a flavor sojourn from the sweet juice of the surface down to the tarter, firm flesh next to the pit--but what really caught me was how cool it was, almost cold down there in the center, nature's refrigeration on a 90+ degree day, still cold from the night before and a morning picking, sitting there in its crate in the back of a pickup box bouncing who knew how many miles from the country into Boulder, then sitting out all sunny day and still this cold? amazing. i don't fear to label such things miracles, they are. and most miraculous to those blessed to experience them. this was worth every cent of the dollar fifty i had to bike to the bank to get (paper money being something of a novelty these days).

a third bite, cutting up from the bottom to complete the trench started by the last, sweet cold fruit pulling clean away from the pit, shaped like the watershed of the pit's woody surface in reverse under my tongue, no peach like this ever had from a grocery store. as i am descending for the fourth bite a pair of legs too lovely to belong to any other than an even lovelier female pass, and i look up to see not this prime dame but a middle-aged man with a picture of planet earth on his shirt and another emblazoned on a blue cape behind holding a mini-guitar and a sort of half-grin under his white cowboy hat, talking with the proprietor of the roasted almond stand. my mind can't help follow along for a moment, into the vagaries of an article he had read just this morning, now that you mention it, being a social psych major, about social psychology and it said you there are three things, umm, Strength, Attitude and Something That Started With An M--a beautiful girl passes behind him, long black hair and a loose summer skirt, and i am back to my peace again. sweet peach.

the fourth and fifth bites do not fail to delight, as cool and naturally sweet as the first. it strikes me that this sweetness, this cool and dripping flesh, has never before been touched by man, is a gift mine alone from the Universe, to make into my own body, and i see in my mind's eye for a moment all that sunlight streaming in through the photosynthetic magic of leaves as raw energy meeting sweet Colorado water and nutrients brought up from the ground swelling the nub behind the flower even as it is blown away, and in the vernal dance of days a sweet pink sphere emerges, dangling delicate and sure in mid-air, its only knowledge of man the moment it is plucked from the particular branch that gave it life, said branch still represented in a twig and leaf protruding from the top of the peach. that was only this morning, and only this afternoon just now after an hour and a half learning about the Bloom Taxonomy of pedagogical terms have i arrived to choose it from among its brothers sisters and near relatives in one of many boxes set up under a white awning, and now just as quickly it is entering my mouth to be digested and made into Levi, most of it at least, shocking to think such a sweet thing as this could have truck with what i will eventually discard of it. all sweet things rot in the end, i suppose, save the idea of sweetness itself, something anyone can savor.

words tacked on the end or the middle of someone's conversation with the bakers across the way draw me up again to the fray of marketmakers, where i see two tanned girls paused midmarket in white dresses and cowboy boots, rapt on a pair of ice cream cones. they ought to be steaming in this heat. i do my best to see them as sisters of the universe and not another pair of peaches--much as they are both they are the first first and i need not mangle that order with an inappropriate gaze. too late. the peach again: another bite, fuzzy exterior folded back on its juicy interior waltzing through my sensory systems, and the pit is asking for release from its half-vanished fleshly heart, so i oblige, tearing it twig and leaf and all, eerily clean compared to the rest of the fruit.

it is a free-for-all now. i hear a band striking up somewhere in the distance, feel peace juice running down my chin, see a guy with a guitar and a big pack on his back take a glance and another through teh modern art museum's dumpster before ambling off down the alley, folded cardboard hitchhiking sign a gentle irony on his traveling back, as though advertising for a fellow traveler through whatever adventure he is in the midst of. i suppose those white dresses and cowboy boots are soliciting more or less the same, a companion on the long travel of life, but on looking they've been replaced by a bent old asian woman in a wide-brimmed hat, by an all-business lady with brimming bags under both arms, by a baggy-jogpanted 20s couple browsing brioches, then it's Captain Earth again still not using that guitar for anything other than an armrest, and i return to my peach and little patch of consciousness in this multicolored quilt. it has moments to live, like all of us, and lives them to the hilt, leaves me licking last drops of musk from my lips, a peach's worth of world heavier for the time spent here ingesting. it has been a glorious bit of fruit, and the knowledge that more such, though none exactly such, peaches await me in the forty or so years i have naturally left alive, is one of my great pleasures, as at the dusk of those forty years my memories of peaches eaten in at least as much appreciation as this one was will be an equally sweet pleasure in a life full of them.

it is time to fulfill our contract: as a friend once showed me to do on a different patch of grass in a different farmer's market on the edge of this continent where the redwoods meet the Pacific, i open the earth up just a bit and push the pit in, life-bearing seed that it is, knowing that was all it ever wanted, and close it again over top wishing it luck in the bearing of fruit, for all our sakes. that was a good peach.

then stand and swing my backpack over my shoulders and my legs over my bicycle and head off down the alley in the direction of that drifter, upwards and homewards and onwards yet, heavy laid with the goodness of the life.


it was a turning point in my life

yesterday, when i saw a plane in the sky.
we had just finished packing my things into my brother-in-law's truck, and catching our breath in the evening light there came the noise of a plane overhead. we looked for a moment, shiny manmade bird flying a thousand feet above us, then i said 'that's how i used to move.'