Back in the Saddle Again!

There was a time when I felt like I lived on my bicycle. I rode it everywhere I went, did stunts on it – like jumping over earthen ramps in the vacant lot across from my house and riding without holding on to the handlebars – and hauled bulky things from one house to another, all the while keeping my balance and peddling effortlessly. I spent so much time in the saddle of my bike that I felt it became an extension of myself. I never really had to think about balance or turning radius or stopping distance. I simply rode.

Getting to that point was a long, laborious process. I just couldn’t “get it.” My poor Dad spent long hours running me up and down the street in front of our house, only to have me coast, screaming at the top of my lungs, and crash into a skinned up heap when the bike lost momentum. Multiple ear infections had left me with dubious balance. Eventually I mastered riding the bike, but a couple years after most of my friends did.

We had an old beater bike in our basement and one winter afternoon I decided to try it out. All of the components suddenly came together and I could ride! I was gifted with a brand new one speed cruiser-style bicycle on my next birthday and that became my transportation until I learned how to drive a car.

It wasn’t until my children were teenagers that I even considered riding a bicycle again. I bought a simple three-speed cruiser-style bicycle with a coaster brake at the local Kmart. It isn’t fancy, but it works.

We took our bikes on numerous vacations and did family rides around neighborhoods, campgrounds, bike trails, and beach boardwalks. But life and vacations changed as our children grew up, got jobs, and their own cars.

My old bicycle sat unused for years. We took it to Mackinaw Island for a week-long condo stay and rode all over the island, but vacations end and life intrudes on recreation time. My old bike sat in the barn for over ten years, untouched and unridden.

Until this summer! We dusted off our bikes, did some minor repairs, and hit the Kiwanis Trail, a bike trail that follows a deserted railroad track. No cars to dodge and perfect summer weather made for an incredible ride.

We logged 5 miles on the trail for our first ride in over a decade! I am not a long-distance rider by any stretch of the imagination, but felt like a kid again as I sailed down the trail! It doesn’t quite feel like an extension of my body yet, and I am far more aware of falling and breaking bones than I was as a child, but I am glad that the old adage of never forgetting how to ride a bike is true. I am delighted to be back in the saddle again!

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My “Fantasy Island”

I have a fantasy, which I visit when I feel I am being pulled in every direction and need a “Calgon Moment.” In my fantasy, I am spending the winter in a large summer “cottage” on the back-side of Michigan’s Mackinaw Island. The walls are made of golden pine logs, with original wood floors that are covered with worn Persian Rugs and hand-made rag rugs. The living room is furnished with a well-worn leather sofa and comfy over-stuffed chairs, complete with cozy red Native American wool blankets thrown over the sofa’s back. There is a wood-burning stove in the living room, topped with a simmering pot of soup.

In my fantasy, it is snowing outside, with big white, fluffy snowflakes drifting to earth, and the water of the lake outside the window is rough and grey, but inside the cottage, the light is golden and warm.

I am snowed in for the winter, armed with stacks of canvases and paints and I spend my days painting wonderful, artistic pictures. There is no television, no radio, and no internet. I am content to be snowed-in alone with my art.

This is totally a FANTASY! In reality, my cold-induced asthma would take me out the first time I had to reload the wood box. And, despite the pretty surroundings, they would become a lonely cage. I need to be involved with other people.

Nothing has brought that need for human interaction into crystal focus better than spending a few months in an RV park in northern Florida. Instead of being a “jeans and tee shirt” winter, it has been “sweater and jacket” weather. One night, the wind-chill was actually zero!

Winter weather here in the panhandle is cold and wet and people stay holed up inside their rigs most of the day. Temperatures may top out around 70 for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon, but quickly plummet once the sun start to set. Folks bundle up, walk the dog, and scurry back inside where it is warm. The best place for conversation and chance meetings seems to be the laundry facility.

There are only so many books one can read, so many pod-casts one can hear, and so many hours on Facebook before the need for human interaction drives you out. And rightly so! God created us for relationship, both with one another and with Him. We are called to be conduits of God’s blessings instead of reservoirs. Life is intended to be shared in fellowship.

Do you know people who are “shut-in” at home? It might be health issues, age, or a new baby in the home that confines a person to their house. When I was a young mom, at home with two little ones, I had a friend in a similar situation. When the Mr. Rogers television program came on, we had a scheduled daily thirty minute phone date that carried us through the rest of the day. Nearly thirty years later, and living in different states, we are still in contact and consider ourselves friends.

We are blessed when we bless others. Who is in your circle of influence that would be blessed by a visit, a phone call or a note? I encourage you to reach out, brighten someone’s day, and be a welcome blessing to someone else.