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.


Elephant's Child said...

Your current weather sounds like a foretaste of hell to me.
However your memories of summers gone are also mine. We headed out the door after breakfast and came back for meals, traveling miles on our bikes, stopping off at swimming holes and blackberry bushes. 'Those were the days, my friend....'

gz said...

Your summer weather is far more condusive to bike riding than ours at present!
Chilly breezes, rain showers and added thunderstorms at times!!

molly said...

EC - "....we thought they'd never end." At least not so fast!

gz - the breezes are warm here but we're right there with you on the rain and the thunderstorms. Just as long as they don't turn into hurricanes!

Colette said...

Ah, Florida. We try to go out about 8:30 or 9 and get home no later than 10 on our Florida bike rides. Then we hide inside from the sun until dinner time. It's just too hot to venture out for more than the mail. I'm glad to hear you are biking! What fun.

Ali Honey said...

Lots of bike riding in my childhood too. Altho I have only ever spent 4 days is Ireland I do know where Ennis is and spent some time there. The green grass there is so similar to NZ green grass.
I no longer have a bike.( Maybe I should )

Wisewebwoman said...

Good to see a post from you and yay on the biking but boo on the weather. I would be mental. Give me fog and rain and the odd sunny day but let me control the temperature. I am wasted in anything near tropical.

Love your bike story. I got a new bike (my christening money paid for it) and me and my friends took it to the top of a hill and the whole fun of it was, how many of us could fit on the bike? We had 8 of us. If our parents had seen us flying down that hill, there would have been murder. But oh such fun clinging to every bit of it.


molly said...

Colette - When we moved here first, not by choice but to be nearby as my in-laws aged, I thought we'd arrived in hell! It was so hot (July!) but we've gradually become accustomed to it and now, after twenty two years, longest we've been anywhere, it feels like home! When I come back after being out of state, the warm humid air feels like a welcome home hug!

Ali - I wonder if you stayed at The Old Ground in Ennis? That was where we had our wedding reception - so long ago! I have heard that NZ is similar to Ireland. One pof my nieces went there "WUFf-ing" and never went home, she loved it so much (except, of course, to visit.)
It's never too late to get back on the bike - go for it!

WWW -It's so pleasant to be outdoors most of the year here that it's not really bothersome to be mostly indoors for these few months. The upside is that I get a lot of reading done and am presently on a really good streak of finally finishing some of my UFO pile!
Your multi passenger bike tale made me remember the unbelievable number of bodies that can pile onto one small motor bike in Cairo!

molly said...
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Pam said...

Oh, I'm on the side of the TOO HOT commentators. I haven't pedalled for some years and don't see me ever starting again now, but I do walk. But not in the hot. Good for you, though, getting your UFOs done.

I wonder what WUFf-ing is?

Molly said...

Oh-ooh! A comment from Pam - that must mean I'm overdue to write a new post! It's still hot and I'm still peddling. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming. You can google and get more information on the internet. If I'd been more adventurous as a young person I think it would have been a great way to see the world.

Dee said...

Dear Molly, I've come two months late to your most recent posting, but all you said resonated with my own childhood and also with the cadence of this decade I'm living in--my eighties. the quote by Rumi rings true for me. The more I work on my writing the more inward peace I find. For me, writing has become prayer for I am never more in the present and in Presence than when I'm trying to craft a good sentence or plot a chapter.

I had to give up bicycle riding many years ago because an accident on one--that landed me in the hospital--left me feeling fearful. Then, years later, when the fear had gone, vertigo had entered in and that kept me mostly homebound. Yet with reading and writing, I roam all possibilities. Take care. Be gracious to yourself. Peace

All said...
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