Tag Archives: Spring

First Bike Ride

Each year, taking our first tandem bike ride, Hubby and I huff, puff and yell at each other to keep pedaling — and that’s just getting out of the driveway.

In spring 2019, however, we had put on major pounds. Dogs that normally pursued our bicycle built for two didn’t bother. Their snores said, “I’d get more challenge out of chasing a parked car.”

Spring 2020, we decided, would be different. Or did Hubby decide? Whatever — I admit all those stay-sane-during-quarantine walks made us fit and ready to ride.

Hubby services and washes the bikes. Buys new helmets. Fires up his cyclocomputer that records mileage, speed, and number of bugs encountered and swallowed.

Despite lighter traffic than usual, we face certain risks. The above-mentioned dogs might supplement their diets with an ankle or two. Some drivers believe bikes are imaginary.  Occasionally, a crazed farmer tries to flatten us with his field planter. Maybe his girlfriend named Daisy dumped him, and he’s hated bicycles built for two ever since.

Still, Hubby and I take to the road.

As we pedal out of town, Hubby supplies most of the power. He also steers, changes gears, brakes, and does maintenance.

Me? As we approach stop signs, I proudly exhibit an innovation: hand signals. Correct, most of the time.

Impressed? Hey, I fill water bottles, too.

Zooming along Hoosier country roads, we spot landscape changes. A new house has sprouted. Young trees have grown. On the familiar route, I notice one homeowner’s switch from planting red geraniums to peach-colored.

“It’s great to be on the bike again,” I yell.

Hubby nods, mostly to keep bug-swallowing statistics low.

After several miles, though, a repressed truth returns full force: we are fit, but that does not mean the bicycle seats fit. A month will pass before our um, muscles, adjust — or total numbness sets in.

Plus, seduced by sunshine on this “perfect bicycling day,” we had ignored the wind’s powerful gusts. With the west wind behind us, we might eat lunch in Pittsburgh.

Then we turned.

Now, with the crosswind, our bike almost flew to Pittsburgh.

Still, even the last gasping miles of our return couldn’t detract from the green rivers’ flowing loveliness. From intoxicating apple blossom and honeysuckle fragrances. From glorious redbuds, as if God had tossed His favorite bouquets to us.

Yes, this first ride is different, and not just because we’re in good physical shape.

In spring 2020, we’re learning to live in the moment. Beauty bursts our hearts with gratitude. We’re extra thankful for health and strength to ride.

More than ever before, we are fit to enjoy it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you spent more time outside during quarantine?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: My Opinion Not Needed

O Lord, You know that when Mommy and Daddy Robin built their stringy, precarious nest on our garage light, this grandma ached to give them advice. Daddy, find a better site. Find a new architect. Mommy, keep your feet up so they don’t swell. No heavy lifting!

OMG, maybe those young parents didn’t need my input?

Sunny Spring Day

Do we really want a sunny, warm spring day?

Duh. Yes! I crave a sunny spring day more than a tax refund equal to the lottery. More than an overnight belly fat loss.

I do enjoy the changing seasons, including January and February — cozy months to enjoy a good book by the fire. Also, an excellent opportunity to thumb my nose at warm-weather friends who still must do yard work and jog.

Today, however, the sun peeks through my unwashed windows with na-na-na-boo-boo mischief.

Come outside. It lights up the green, green exterior like a marquee. It’s spring!

Where’s your baseball, your bat? Dig out your old mitt, even if it smells more like feet than hands. When Dad comes home from work, maybe he’ll play flies and grounders with us in the backyard.

It’s a perfect hopscotch day. Chuck that project. Ditch that deadline. You own a whole driveway of limestone, a treasure chest of perfect rocks that could draw a thousand hopscotch grids on playground blacktop only a block away.

The 1963 Taylorsville Elementary Hopscotch Champion in me trembles with anticipation. I might have to wear Spandex armor to keep my jiggly torso from smacking my knees with each hop, but must … play … hopscotch. …

However, the Responsible Adult in me proclaims, “You haven’t washed these windows since you moved in.”

True. Pristine sunbeams also touch our carpet and winter-dingy furniture as if they had cooties. Layers of dust comfortably camouflaged by dim winter days now scream for attention. They’re almost as needy as the lumpy, bumpy lawn outside, invaded by a crabgrass army. The sun leads me to our garden, covered with skeletons of brave, hopeless tomato vines.

This year, a friend offered me free horse manure if I want to shovel and haul it. Do I feel that ambitious for future vegetables?

Nope.

Funny thing about sunlight — like its Creator, it gets nosy, peering into the grimy corners of my house, yard and life, seeing much more than I like. Instead of dissing me, though, the Sun Maker breathes a warm kiss of a breeze on my cheek and hands me the first flower of spring. So what, if it’s a dandelion?

He’s sent ragged robins, looking like refugees, to greet me, too. But they just can’t help singing.

Nor can I. Sure, our Maker will help me tackle the flaws in my home, yard and soul. But first, He, the sun, and I select the perfect rock from the driveway. We head for the playground and my first game of hopscotch in a long, long time.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite way to celebrate the first sunny, spring day?

Violets: My Purple Passion

Seeing these not-so-shy visitors arrive in my yard again, I had to look back on a blog I wrote in tribute to my uninvited but secretly welcome guests.

I first noticed these flowers as a preschooler. While dandelions flaunted fuzzy beauty like Hollywood starlets, violet faces peered at me shyly through leafy green hands. Mom said I could pick them! — unless they grew in other people’s yards.

One day my sister and I gathered a legal but meager violet bouquet in our grandparents’ backyard — until we wandered toward the neighbors’ weathered house. It resembled a log cabin. Did Abraham Lincoln live there? Even that possibility paled beside the ocean of violets before us. God liked purple, too!

The serious business of picking them all consumed us. I knew we should ask permission, but loudly legitimized our actions by announcing we were gathering special flowers for Mommy and Grandma. When we brought them wilted, wadded bouquets, Mom confirmed my niggling conscience’s pointing finger. We had crossed moral boundaries. The good news: too late to do anything about it. I loved it when sin worked out that way.

Not long afterward, Grandma died, and I never visited the magic Sea of Violets again. But as I graduated from picking flowers to picking guys, I never forgot them.

The spring break before high school graduation, I took an all-day walk around my hometown. Like any respectable teen, I’d hated it for years. Now, deep inside, I knew I was leaving Columbus, Indiana, forever. One shabby bungalow’s yard stopped me in my tracks. Thousands and thousands of purple violets. Now 18 and an official grown-up, I didn’t dive in. But I stood, mesmerized, for sometime.

I hung that violet picture on my mind’s walls. When my then-boyfriend, now-husband asked about a prom corsage for my lavender dress, I answered, “Violets.” I loved them — and didn’t want him to feel obliged to give me an orchid, the obvious, expensive answer.

Unbeknownst to me, his mother would worry because she could not find a violet corsage.

“Haven’t used violets in 40 years!” one florist said. “What kind of nut is your son dating, anyway?”

Finally, she told Steve his girlfriend’s purple passion would have to take a different direction. How about white carnations? Pink roses?

Oh. I hadn’t thought of that.

My date, who had remained silent during this woman debate, decided on a white orchid.

The violet vision must have remained with my future mother-in-law, though. After a church banquet, she instructed Steve to give me its centerpiece, a huge bunch of violets. Did she like me? I hoped so. Whether she knew it or not, she had become part of my violet history.

VioletsMeadow

Which continues to this day. My purple passion still guides my walks. If I find violets in your yard, I just might pick them without asking permission.

March: The Dream Month?

Few Midwesterners regard March as the dream month.

Though Halloween’s goblins haunt October, March often qualifies as the year’s worst nightmare.

First, the time change disrupts biological clocks. “Spring forward?” Time saved?

That Sunday ranks as the crankiest of the church calendar. If I were a pastor, I’d refuse to preach until everyone had consumed two cups of coffee, plus three doughnuts apiece to sweeten tempers.

By March, we who have braved winters have had it with gloating snowbird social media — especially if Mother Nature goes off her meds, delivering a final winter blow.

Before attempting to consider March a “dream month,” let’s visualize it as a combination of pluses and minuses — a wintry mix, as weather gurus term it.

First, March weather in the Midwest presents a huge opportunity to complain. We love to complain!

Also, most snowbirds return by March’s end, when Indiana typically suffers its wickedest weather. Watching beach babies shiver in sandals makes it all worthwhile.

“This is nothing,” we stalwart Hoosiers brag. “Wait till you hear The Weather Channel’s predictions for April!”

Another March mixed blessing: my birthday — far more welcome during my childhood.

Now, though, my birthday presents a legal opportunity to abandon my wretched diet and silence my exercise video’s cheery nagger.

A new mixed blessing arrived with this year’s birthday: Social Security. I look forward to its benefits — but, Uncle Sam, haven’t you made a big mistake? I’m still in college.

Given my “young” mindset, I hardly plan to retire, as I’ve grown inordinately fond of shooting off my mouth via print. Good behavior doesn’t sound nearly as fun.

Plus, around my birthday, I dream of next year’s writing adventure. What stories will tease me? What new imaginary friends will visit while I write their novels? March brings the best writing weather of the year, when I rarely venture from my cozy writing cave.

March also presents a lo-o-ong transition time in which we can contemplate spring cleaning for a whole month without actually doing it. Ditto for yard work.

Winter days remain for camouflaging flab with baggy sweaters. Yet, during thaws, we can raid spare room closets for (baggy) spring clothes.

During March Madness, basketball fans dream of their teams winning it all. Yet, spring training baseball scores awaken cravings for the sound of bat on ball, hot dog fragrances, and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” wafting on spring breezes.

Daffodils, the ultimate dreamers, urge us to leave winter behind, as does the calendar that naively celebrates spring on March 20.

So what if they’re out of touch with reality? March is indeed the dream month, and I’m ready to celebrate. Who’s with me?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you celebrate/survive March?