Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a reversal of fortune

I learned a lesson today. Several, in fact, but one stands out: January 31st is, in the final run, January 31st. You can’t leap out of bed and think: spring! – even if outside it’s 35 degrees (that’s a Wisconsin spring morning reading) and there’s talk of record breaking highs in the afternoon (a sweltering 49).

Still, following a grueling Monday, I’m thinking how exhilarating it would be to bike to work! I haven’t biked since the end of November and hadn’t expected to until April. But 49!

My ever helpful shaggy haired landlord kindly steps outside (in a state of at least partial undress... it makes me smile to see him so oblivious to...the ways of the world) and brings out my bike for air pumping and light battery checking. By 8:30, I am on the road!

The best ride for me makes heavy use of the bike path. But it’s not the fastest route to campus. I’m nervous about the time -- my first class is at 9:30. I opt for a faster (45 minute) route. Combination bike path and road.

What’s this? Patches of snow? A little bit of ice maybe? A surface of frozen mist?


Well now. A challenge.

Okay, getting close to campus. Familiar vistas!


And here’s where I should have understood that where there is snow and where there is warm air, eventually, very eventually, there will be puddles. And sand, and salt, and all of this will make its way up, up and in a sweeping arch, hit me right on the back, my head, too, covering me with all the debris we throw on the roads to keep them ice-free.


Not that I immediately realize what is happening. I’m pedaling madly to get to school on time. Oh, I notice some specks of mud on my pants, but I shrug it off. A bit of mud? Eh --the price of any bike ride.


Minutes before class, I walk into my office, take off my jacket and see the damage. I take off the helmet. Salt in my hair. Indeed, mud, salt and sand everywhere.

So I learned something. And I suffer the indignity of teaching with a wet pants seat and salty pony tail. (The mud-splatterd jacket I can, thankfully, leave behind.)

Work day's done. The ride back is much nicer. Even as I just cannot believe that there are ice fishers on the lake. As if suspended on water.


Onwards. Past Lake Monona, which looks as if it's heading into April.


Done. Finally, splatterdly done. A stop at Paul’s (where are you Ed??? Late? Do you understand what it means to panic at someone’s absence??) and then the last lap home. Just as the sun sets.



Mmmm, farmhouse home.

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