Friday, January 11, 2008

I Did Not Have To Choose

It amazes me how moody a disposition the weather can have; one day it is dark and stormy, and in a matter of hours its tantrum subsides and it is bright and sunny again. Last night thunderous sounds rattled our houses, ragged flashes of lightning stabbed at the ground, and a deluge of rain descended upon us. Today? We were drenched in sunlight.

This afternoon I got on my bike and left my neighborhood behind. I decided to push my average speed significantly higher, tack on an extra 20 minutes, and concede to aching legs tomorrow. Other than that, much of today’s ride differed little from the last one. On Fulton Road I saw the remains of a slow-footed armadillo, his armor plating cracked and dinged and faded to a light gray. His remains have not yet returned to dust, and he has been wadded up on the shoulder the last four weeks. The horses were behind the fences where they usually roam, and endless pastures continued to suggest—a rich person lives here. Across the street the tumbled down shack sags. The sills have lost the last of their rigidity, and the little wood frame home is being sucked down into the earth. Junked autos surrounded the shanty, and the goats that usually patrol the yard like guard dogs provided some comic relief—they were curled up sunning on the roof, bed, and hood of a tired old truck.

For months, Georgia had baked under relentless heat and skies that refused to surrender but a few drops of moisture. Each ditch and gully that provides a highway for run-off has seen nothing flow through except an occasional wave of dry leaves chased by the wind. I noticed for the first time how far I could see back into the woods. Nature’s recent outburst had robbed every tree of their fig leaves. Nothing was left to cover their nakedness, but there was a beauty in their nudity. It took a moment, but something I had not heard since I left Maine seized my attention—the pleasant sound of running water! A gurgling swath, a little stream, formed from torrential rains, was tumbling along a hardwood bottom, pulled by the silent strength of gravity.

In that brief moment, I was cycling in the Peach Tree State, but I was sitting by the river in the Pine Tree State. For a few seconds, I got to indulge two favorite pastimes, and I did not have to choose one over the other.

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