Monday, July 10, 2023

Dog Days

The title of an early Edna O'Brien book was

 "August is a wicked Month."

 I don't think it had much to do with meteorology but what a perfect description of August's weather, and July's too, here in Florida! Back in the first flush of my current biking enthusiasm (February? March?) I didn't think I'd still be peddling in mid-summer so call me surprised! That I am. These last few weeks we've moved into the dog days - high nineties, even a hundred some days with humidity to boot. Five minutes outside and you need a change of clothes. But, somehow, once on the bike, moving through the air, it doesn't feel so hot. Even with the long sleeves. As long as there's room for air to flutter between them and my skin. 

So. Another Monday morning of wicked weather.  Climb into the shorts, down the coffee, climb on the bike. Helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Water bottle? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Off we go. With ever creakier knees, I'm not much of a long haul walker or hiker these days but put me on the bike and I'm ten again, climbing Cratloe hill with my dare devil friend, Mary G, then freewheeling back down at gravity-induced speed, hair flying (no such thing as a helmet back then)

 "Look Ma, no hands!" 

Our mothers would've killed us.  But we had the run of the countryside back then, especially in summer, free as the day was long.

On our way back, in along the Ennis Road, there was an old ruined castle that stood out in a field full of cowslips and thistles and lazily munching cattle. No question, of course we stopped, leaving our bikes in the ditch, off to climb and pick wild flowers. We had such fun, in that ruined pile of rocks, trying to get up as high as we could on the rickety steps, half of which had tumbled to the ground decades before we were born. 

Best that our mothers couldn't see us. Helicopter  mothering hadn't been invented yet. Ours made sure we knew the rules and woe betide us if we broke them - there would be consequences. I think they trusted that we had enough brain cells, not to mention fear of those consequences, to stay out of trouble and danger. But adventure was another story, even if it involved the possibility of a few broken bones. 

Hacyon days.

*   *   *

There was, mercifully, a little cloud cover this morning. And a breeze. Rain predicted for later. Wrestling with the wind slowed me down some but there were places the wind missed where, in spite of the distant moan of a lawnmower, it was so still you could hear the sun shining and the sound of a leaf hitting the ground. 

There was a flock of ten wild turkeys in the drive way and on the lawn of a house I passed. Nine of them were doing their turkey business, beaks to the grass, munching on worms and bugs, a few kicking up flower-bed mulch in search of more exotic fare. The tenth, though, was on a different mission. A pick-up truck was parked in the driveway and number ten was pecking at its shiny crome bumper. He could see his own reflection and had fallen in love. He pecked at it again and again, talking to it in turkey-speak (gobble-gobble) hoping maybe that his new "friend" would come out and help him search for grubs?

I don't pretend to understand a lot of Rumi quotes but  there was one on my calendar a few months ago that spoke to me.

"Anything you do every day

can open into the deepest spiritual place

which is freedom."

I'm not looking for danger, trouble or even adventure these days, but the peace I feel peddling along, blue sky above, trees all around, is truly a pearl without price.

And now the rain is hammering down outside, just as predicted. This being Florida though, it won't last long. Chances are good that, in another hour, the sky will be blue again, the sun shining, the ground steaming and the dog days here to stay for a while.