Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Flatistan Tour of Duty* (Bears vs. Alligators: YOU decide!)
It was so still, so improbably and artistically placed, so… statuesque… that I very nearly removed my helmet and took a self-portrait with it, my lips pursed upon the sculpture’s snout**.
If you happen to be riding your two wheeled machine through the everglades, your front wheel won’t turn five times before you have to swerve. One, two, three… there they lay, sunning themselves like lazy (or stealthy?) beagles right next to, or even on, the narrow stretch of asphalt. I had the opportunity to poke any number of alligators in the eye with my naked toe*** as I rode past, had I been so inclined. I was not. So inclined. Instead, I was unreasonably longing for my boots.
I’ve said it before; fear is a funny thing. Take, for example, this recent scene: a gated community in south Florida, accessible only by vehicle RFID tag, secret handshake with a Cuban guard, or [cue ominous melody in the cello section], a canal that slithers unnoticed under the wall… You sit, over-nourished once again by Mom’s Best, and ponder a late night run. What, do you suppose, does mom caution you against? And when you are abruptly assailed in the dark by the sharp, watery bite of a well timed irrigation system, what does your mind cry out?
Seriously, my mom will unthinkingly garden with her back turned to the long, reptile concealing grasses at the edge of the canal (“Pffft, all they do is sleep.”), but will not walk outside after dark, lest she be attacked by a bear****. You can decide for yourself, but I stand steadfastly, proudly, even, next to my fear of alligators over that of bears, at least in this environment.
All concern for my personal safety aside, the everglades, like so many of the places I ride through, unleash in me a rush of gratitude and humility, that I might get to experience yet another wondrous and strangely beautiful land in what feels to be such an intimate fashion.
But for the first time in my two-wheeling life, I experienced a novel celebration of the straight road. An unusual reverence for the flat road.
I was, of course, riding a bicycle. Ding ding!
* This is The Year of the Big Commute. I'm working in AZ and FL this season.
** No kidding, I thought for sure that first one was clever national park artwork.
*** Yes, flip flops. I’ll ‘splain in a minute.
****Okay, to be fair, there was something on the news last night about another bear attack.