Just Over the Horizon
The bluebirds must have been feeling pretty cocky. The pair sat atop nesting boxes in the middle of the big hayfield near the top of
I ride my bicycle because I can, not because I have to. Of course there were times when simply jumping in the car to run an errand was not an option. Simply traveling to work or to secure the things needed to survive was a chore, if not an ordeal. But in this age of wealth and luxury, biking and walking are things some of us do because we think them fun or good for us. Most adults who ride bicycles today, do so solely for recreation, exercise or sport. I suspect most of us, upon seeing a grownup riding a bike simply to get from point A to point B, wonder what’s wrong with them. Homeless? DUI? Broke? Unstable? I sometimes wonder if people seeing me returning from Moose Hill with my tattered clothing and backpack hanging from my shoulders as I struggle up
One of my regular business chores involves a five-mile round-trip commute. Most days, I’m carrying tools, bundles or supplies, so I drive. I’m trying to arrange things so once or twice a week I can make the trip on foot or by bicycle. Sunday was one of those days.
I rode the touring bike to do my work and then took the long, scenic route home. This involved mostly climbing through the cool, very windy air to get to, and then over, Moose Hill. This was no race; I was just enjoying the feeling of the wind and sun on my face and the pulsing of blood through my body. I passed the Audubon visitor’s center where groups of young families were gathering to go see the maple sugaring demonstration. I coasted down the south side of Moose Hill and pedaled over to our local farm stand where I bought a muffin and had my vacuum bottle filled with fresh coffee. I packed these in my bag and headed back to the woods. I had a few things on my mind and wanted to sit and think for a few minutes.
I found the abandoned and barely noticeable old trail that leads to The Mikveh. This is the old stone-lined springhole I stumbled on early last winter when I was thinking about my recently-deceased high school buddy, Martin. (See “Living Waters,”
Just beyond The Mikveh a bedrock outcrop rises above the surrounding forest and this is enhanced by a couple of granite boulders stacked on top in a way that makes me think of an alter. In the event I need to offer up any sacrifices, I’ll know just where to go. On this day, the only thing I was offering up was coffee and a muffin. I put on my fleece hat and jacket and put my little foam pad on the outcrop so I could sit in the warming sun and lean against the alter to get a little protection from the wind.
I shuffled through my thoughts and tried to pick one to focus on. My thinking sometimes gets stuck on a theme and recently that theme has been the grim prospects for our future as prophesized by James Howard Kunstler (See sidebar), with thanks to Eleutheros at “How Many Miles from
The prospect of life without fossil fuels can lead to endless daydreams. Will we plan a wise and orderly transition to conservation and renewable sources of energy, or will we descend into chaos as we squabble over the last few drops of petroleum. In the future, after the oil fields have gone dry, perhaps every one of us will have fantasies about what we could have done with the gasoline burned at just one NASCAR race. Just the night before, I was listening to a friend describe his one- to two-hour (each way!) daily automobile commute to a new job. Maybe he is among those who think we will soon discover more oil and more hours in a lifetime buried under distant blood-soaked desert sands.
It was time to go, so I packed up and headed for the trail. I paused one more time at the springhole just in case there was new wisdom to be found there, but I saw only the same old bewildered face staring back at me from the smooth surface. I was worried about the troubles that may lie just over the horizon but I was also optimistic about the approach of Spring so I pedaled back up Moose Hill to see what was new in the big meadow.