Saturday, April 24, 2010


I WAS SUPPOSED TO WORK today. Punch the clock. Of course, now, it’s my own clock. But still, I'm supposed to work. Especially if I want to get that novel done. The one that’s been sitting in my head and on my desk since back in the Clinton administration.

But the sun was out – hadn’t been in some time – and an idle BMW conspired with it to prompt my sin. So, to the lord of the independent contractor, freelancer and writers everywhere – anyone whose income is derived from their personal, intrinsic motivation – I ask forgiveness.

IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER where I go – I’d decided on the delta – because I’ve ridden almost everywhere around here many, many time since I initially sold my soul and the seat of my pants to the demon of roadway and wind roar. Today I just got on the bike and went slicing through that day-after-a-good-spring-storm air – air so sweet that if I could package it, they could tax it.

I stopped for an omelet at a greasy spoon I’d passed by numerous times before. Local chain. Lousy gravelly parking lot – easy place to tip over. I could build a better omelet at home, but here, there’s no clean up. I’m not annoyed that the young waitress fails to keep my coffee hot and fresh. I’m on a ride.

Back in the saddle, the road unwinds and so do I. The self-imposed deadline for finishing my manuscript dissolves and my only real interest is the discovery around the next bend or over the next rise.

Viewing the Coast Range invites another visit along its twisting roads through rolling horizons of tall grass and Spanish moss clinging to ancient blue oaks. The delta is forgotten. Cattle dot the grasslands and that familiar derelict barn is a bit further toward oblivion.

People make a living out here, off this land. They wake up in this bucolic scene each and every day. I coin a phrase: “good bucolity of life.” Wonder if they can play hooky – let the chickens go unfed or the cows unmilked? Perhaps the pastoral is more romantic to those of us who are just passing by. To those enraptured by a combination of the physics and the spiritual nature of riding, maybe every day seems better than it actually is.

Never really had a bad day on a motorcycle – outside of the day I hit some sand, high sided and busted my shoulder. And that wasn’t really a bad day, just a bad moment fostered by my own bad judgment. My buddy once hit a deer on his bike. Even that wasn’t a bad day either. Just a bad moment with a bit of an aftermath. Really bad day for the deer, however.

Somewhere, I missed an intersection. Must have been daydreaming. I made no attempt to correct this. I found myself on one of those rare area roads I’ve not travelled before. The road is as straight as a rifle shot for countless miles, ranging across the pan of the Sacramento Valley. In a Frostian moment, I wonder if this road not [previously] taken will make all the difference. A rusted tractor sits choked in waist-high grass. A barn pancaked, its siding splintered beneath a still-intact corrugated metal roof – rusted in some areas, glinting mid-day sun in others. A field of thigh-high mustard is in full bloom. Thankfully, my Claritin knock-off tablet works. A snowy egret stands in a ditch like a lawn statue. A bit further on, another. Hawks stand sentinel on old wooden power poles. One dives into the grass to prey upon a hapless rodent. He rises with lunch wriggling in his talons.

After a time, I end up someplace I’ve been before. No, not the town. I’ve been there. But the feeling. The spirit. The new road is now an old friend.

I pause for a stretch along the waterfront in Rio Vista. I wish I’d stopped to photograph the egrets or that old barn. But some days, when attending the Church of the Open Road, parishioners simply ride.

AFTER COMMUNION, vespers, the sermon and a hymn or two inside my helmet, I am home. I ask for forgiveness for having played hooky. Tomorrow, I promise, I will write.

Depending on the weather of course.

© 2010
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. I get the same feeling on the rare days when I dig out my bicycle and pedal home from school. I think driving in a car just separates you from the world, and by being open to the air there is so much more sensory stimulation, and so much more to experience.

    As far as the procrastination goes: you're retired. Chill out.