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Published: October 4th 2005
Sunrise with Sailboat
Sunrise on Lake Carmi in northern Vermont.
My neighbor’s sprinkler makes a gentle patter on the sidewalk, tapwater meandering through the cracks and channels towards the gutter and the nearly-dead, oxygen-deprived Elizabeth River. Who knows? Perhaps a Tru-Green ChemLawn makes for a Tru-Green Chesapeake Bay.
The sky glows pink and orange as clouds drift by low enough to reflect our streetlights back in an earlier glow punctuated by patches of pre-dawn azure blue, and the crepe myrtle stands in shadowed contrast, the alien trees engulfing human-scaled street lamps. The hum of air conditioners (It’s 64 degrees people, open your windows!) is accented by the constant buzz of cicadas and the odd mockingbird.
It’s a good morning for a bike ride.
It’s just another morning for a drive.
There’s a connection that’s maintained with the world (natural or manmade) that is lost in a car. On a bike I become aware of every nuance of the weather: every change of wind, every cloud that slides in front of the sun. But the steel and glass and plastic and air conditioning of an automobile insulates a person from any such distractions. Only the most extreme of meteorological phenomena can invade the automotive cocoon: torrential rain, tornados and the like.
Every year for the past three now my Monday night bike ride has dwindled in numbers as the Fall Equinox approached. Departing at 6:30, we are acutely aware of the sun’s path across the firmament, curtailed every day by a few minutes. Three months ago I would have sat on my porch at 6:30 in the morning bathed in near-horizontal sunlight. Now in October I must wait another half hour to see sunrise.
I once came into the office and exclaimed to a co-worker, “Did you see that sunrise?” She replied, “I don’t’ see sunrises.” I pitied her because I suspect that from the vantage point of her driver’s seat, she doesn’t.
On a bike you notice these things. Each ride is different from the next. The textures of the morning and the neighborhood change every day. But in a car it’s always the same old radio show, the same old AC setting, the same old frustration at omnipresent delays.
I’ll take my bike.
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