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ON MY BIKE

ON MY BIKE

Besides going to the beach as often as possible, riding my bike and gardening are two of my favorite extra curricular activities I enjoy as soon as the temperature climbs over fifty. After watering and transplanting little zinnia shoots into some pots because even though I know I am supposed to thin out the seedlings, I can’t bring myself to just throw them into the compost, I admired the progress of my garden so early into this early June. Lavender, thyme and rosemary abound, as do numerous other herbs. All of these years later after my first romance with herbs in 1990 when I used them at my wedding, they still make me smile at every turn.

I wake up eagerly and throw on my gardening dress and red rubbery plastic Birkenstocks, throw my hair up into a pile on the top of my head and make my way out with my Life is Good coffee mug to inspect what miracles have transpired in just one evening away. It is miraculous and even though I know things are going to grow with mostly predictable regularity, I am still in awe of everything that does.

The same is true when I get on my bike and I witness cardinals singing to me and I look up over and over and see him in multiple trees, almost like he is following me reminding me like he always does that yes, Alayne, you are on the right path. Keep going. Michael C. and I decided to head out for a lengthy bike ride yesterday as the original beach day plans were kiboshed because the Sunday early june weather can’t seem to get the message that it is ok to be a beach day. The air was cool, cloud covers helped keep the path from ever feeling anything but comfortable and we started our pedaling on the East Bay Bike Path with no destination in mind. No money, no cell phones, no time limit, just a couple bottles of water and some long sleeve shirts in case we got chilly from the unseasonable cooler breeze.

There is great freedom in just picking up and going with no destination in mind. Would we do the entire bike path or just ride to Barrington and turn around? Would we venture off the path and do the Rumstick loop as the sign at the corner of the bike path and County Rd. suggested on its neat little blue lined map? No idea, but between the enormous quantity of nature at every pedal, we just kept pedaling.

Swans and their babies in the far corner of Brickyard Pond that you could miss if you were busy not noticing, geese teaching their babies to waddle like their mamas up ahead in the clearing on the right. A deer in an open space trying to find some chow looking quite vulnerable and lost. A cat hunting for mice on the prowl with a red metal tag around her neck so no one would confuse her with a feral cat and try to rescue her from the wild. Then there were not only the Osprey nests, but the majestic ospreys themselves standing proud and high feeding their babies always taking my breath away at their size, their prowess and their squawking sounds. We kept pedaling never checking in with each other, taking it easy and slow as the extreme bikers flew by us kindly screaming “on your left!” warning us not to make a sudden veer to the left that would cause a bike path pile up ruining an otherwise perfect Sunday.

East Bay Bike Path is for most of part flat and easy. (http://www.dot.ri.gov/community/bikeri/eastbay.php.) It runs for 14.3 miles making a round trip of almost thirty miles. Every single time I am on it’s flat trail and I am on it a lot, I am never bored because the plants change, so does the perfume of them, so does the color. Nature never disappoints and nature is even brighter without the distraction of a cell phone close by. The sights and sounds of the people riding also never changes. All shapes and sizes, all forms of dress, helmets, no helmets, runners, walkers, roller bladers, dog walkers, training wheels, first time family rides, first time bike pathers and everything in between, the bike path is a welcome Sabbath from a busy week of work, play and volunteering that made up my last week.

A good old fashioned bike ride on the East Bay Bike Path that is less than a half a mile from my house is a perfect Sunday on a day that is not a beach day. One I needed for my body yes, but one I needed more for my soul. As we continued to ride and kept riding I could feel the pull of the end as our destination and Michael and I realized that we had both only done the entire bike path once or twice. As we made our way to India Point Park in Providence, we realized we could have continued on and ridden to Alforno or the East Side without having to cross 195 because of the brilliant path allowing us a safe journey over it. We didn’t have our wallets so we instead, just found a place at the park on a bench, gulped our water and rested. After a few moments, a kind gentleman visiting from Atlanta wandered over and asked us about great places to eat Lobster. He was planning on taking the ferry to Newport the next day and was looking for some recommendations. He hit the lottery with the two of us since Newport and Bristol are our self proclaimed expertise and we began singing the praises of our beautiful East Bay. After a lengthy discussion, we realized that we still had a fifteen mile ride back and the wind was against us giving us a little extra resistance for the ride back.

We had plans to celebrate our long and fulfilling journey, a good cold glass of white wine for me and an IPA for Michael, some fried oysters at Christians. After that we made our way back to the front porch for a cup of tea and some dancing and in bed by nine. Sleep and whatever else came our way was a perfect way to end a perfect Sunday. As I reflected on my day, my weekend, my life to this point, I once again felt humbled and happy with everything that has happened to me to lead me to this present moment. #LUCKYINDEED.

buying my bike with my old friend Sten, in Denmark almost eight years ago. not one regret for this crazy purchase because the stories surrounding it make the bike ride every time so much sweeter.
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NOTHING LIKE NATURE

NOTHING LIKE NATURE

I rode with the birds today. I saw the birdhouses at the bird sanctuary and smelled the horse manure trampled by car traffic and the cow manure freshly mixed with the soil on the local farms. I was part of a bird flying practice as the wind whipped through my ears and hair looking up trying to decipher the thousands of black specks in the blue sky on this clearest of days. I berated myself but only briefly for not immediately being able to identify the type of bird swarming from beach shore to marsh practicing for takeoff as the cool air enters our New England lives. I tried finding out what their names were when I got home, but couldn’t find the answer. Some type of sparrow, I am guessing, but the funny thing is what difference does it make, the view looking up at this marvel made me stay right there with them and their name became insignificant in this present moment. I blocked my ears from the noise of the deliberately loud truck mufflers like they were roosters getting ready for mating and I opened them to the silence of the breeze and the sounds of the ospreys so proud that I was able to differentiate their callings when they screeched.

I felt the power of my strong thighs reminding me of the beautiful Serena Williams and her power on the tennis court with her mighty rear challenging every body type we have ever seen on those all to0 often all too white shimmery courts. Pure power in these bad ass thighs on my bike ride this morning on my no speed old school Schwinn with only foot breaks never having to stand up to make it up a hill. (thank you Kathy Martin and Kyle). Gloriously immersing myself in the air of the morning simply because of my speed back down the hill. Cruising at a pace that made me feel like a child flying down the road on my yellow Schwinn banana bike way before pink became the mandatory go to color if you happened to be a girl buying your first bike. I saw the thatched roofs of some of the converted summer homes charming them into less campy style and more year round and old beauties before the megatrons took over and changed the landscapes. The white brick chimney on the right side of a front porch with a big old fashioned H on it that had an old familiar style about it reminding me of a Leave it to Beaver episode. I heard the cardinals and the waves and I smelled the beach that has a smell way better than any anti depressant could ever make a woman feel.

The glorious witnessing of active lives running and walking or flying by me on their five thousand dollar bikes in complete gear like they were on a road race in the south of France, racing past me trying to finish their workout for the beginning of their Sunday. Helmets everywhere, I am sure they were judging me with disdain for my choice in not wearing one. Each time someone rode past me and I sing songy chirped, “Good Morning!” the sound of my voice almost visual sparkles exemplifying my complete joy in this spectacular moment, most didn’t reply because they were either plugged into some music or were I am guessing here judging my lack of helmet choice. I applauded myself when two millenials one female tattooed and adorable and the other one, male and shirtless with long bleach blond hair flying in the wind rode past me helmetless, and judgment free as they too were experiencing the same glory in the freedom of a bike ride on an early Sunday morning.

Since the cold days of this past spring, every time I have driven down Third Beach Road in Middletown, RI past Norman Bird Sanctuary, past the hundreds of birdhouses in the grassy field with St. Georges steeple in the back drop to the right and the chilly Atlantic Ocean to the left, I have thought of this as a perfect bike ride. Summer comes with an inordinate amount of fantasy availability of time and hopefulness of “best -laid plans” like an open road with no traffic. Then just like a nose twitch of Samantha Stevens in Bewitched, it is the last weekend before Labor Day and just like that, the lists of kayak trips, day hikes and paddleboard excursions get added to the ‘I’ll get to it list.’ I have found as I am getting older, it seems as if there is less time in the day or in the week. It always seems like it is Monday again and I am not sure what I did that added to my need for spiritual centeredness.

So this early Sunday morning as Hurricane Harvey blasted Texas, Washington DC pardoned criminals and I am getting ready for my final fill before my last upcoming surgery, I took that bike ride alone and with no plan, no helmet, in a skirt and sandals like I was riding around Copenhagen. My dear friend, Morgan, reminded me about the no helmet choice in her nurturing commentary since she passed me on the way to a tennis match. I am sure the many riders out there sat in judgment of my decision, but it is my life. I am a very aware bikerider and I like the wind in my ears and the sounds of the world flying by me and with me. I love the feeling like I am in high school again before my world changed before I got my license to drive a car. Once this happened, the bike rides, once the only form of transportation unless you had a friend who had a car, became an unlikely choice in favor of the more convenience of the mechanical one.

As I traversed this beautiful spot I am lucky to reside in, I realized in my moment in morning nature finally doing something this summer I had on my list how simple it is to add beauty to our busy lives. We spend so much time surfing bland and uninteresting stories on social media and reading about stuff that seems like it matters at the time until all of a sudden an entire hour has flown by and so has that chance to take that bike ride. When I am out in nature moving, no spin class, no circuit training and weight pounding exercise gets me to feel like I just participated in a come to Jesus moment. Nature is God to me. When I am participating in its sanctuary, I often wonder why I ever hesitate to do it again. Today was magic and I will cherish its loveliness and my decision to get off my ass away from the TV horrors, the news, work, and the noise of my busy brain for the delicious hour I allowed my healthy body to enjoy.

This was my holy moment today. Praise the Lord indeed, whoever she is, wherever she may be, for sure Mother Nature is the divine for my personal spirit. AMEN or AWOMAN however you want to think about the word, nature is the gift that keeps on giving and I never want to take it for granted especially after this morning ride.



the birdhouses at Norman Bird Sanctuary and my old school style Schwinn I keep in Newport. #solucky