Photo by Bertha Siegenthaler
Good thing we rented bikes.
The rental bike’s tires were made for this scrunchy trail, weren’t they?
Hear that grit and crunch?
Seventeen gentle, downhill-graded miles, they said.
Oh, the fern and laurel; Look!
The river trestle bridge,
The sudden clearings of hay field, barn, and bale.
Isn’t the air cool soft, hot in the clearings and crossings, damp
In the canopy, mulchy-smelling?
Let’s fly down, for once loving speed,
Jarred, jolted, intent on motion,
Longing to stop and admire, but too caught up in the flying.
“On your left!”
A green world of Queen Anne’s lace, moss,
Water-rounded rocks the size of watermelons, and
Dirt that glistens with stray sunbeams on mineral dust.
Midway, the cafe! Thank you, trail-builders,
For knowing we would need hot, fried stuff. And “World-famous chocolate cake.”
A leaf’s purpose is to join its billions of siblings and catch the wind over creek and picnic
Table where a family breathes, laughs, endures.
A tow-headed child picks his mother a flower, presents it, arm out, open heart.
And we watch. Happy.
Onward. The seat is sore when remounting, and blisters on the handgrips sting hot.
Arms itch from the job of shock-absorbing.
But the song of the wind and the water over the rocks is mesmerizing;
It calls the body to follow it down, swaying, curving, looping. We join its graceful reel.
And the river leads back to the bike barn.
Tired family droops on benches until all stragglers and delighted dalliers wend in,
Each with his own stories,
Her own clutched leaves,
Sated with beauty.