Strangers moving by
There is a refrain among city bicycle riders you will recognize. One of the marvels of bicycle riding, it goes, is the openness of the vehicle itself, the windshieldlessness of the vehicle itself that encourages and reminds the rider to connect with strangers and places that are right there. Right there in a way more real than they are when experienced from the cockpit of a car.
I sing this refrain every time I live a ride like today's back home down the Oliverbahn.
First, there was time to stop and consider the textures of elm bark and boa constrictor skin.
A few blocks on, it was easy to get off my bike and offer an arm of help, accepted, to this friendly stranger walking warily from curb to snowy curb.
Then a quick hello and muffled conversation through neck warmers with an Oliverbahn rider who said he appreciated the bare-ish bike lane and how they (the pronoun of choice for the City of Edmonton) hit a sweet spot with de-icer applications this season.
When I caught up to this jogger on the 102 Ave multi-use path, I said: I was just admiring your efficient stride. I want to run like that. The jogger smiled and laughed a Thanks very much!
On Ravine Drive, I gulped a cloud of firepit from a nearby backyard and felt quite alive.
The Weepies came to mind. From Antarctica.
All the colours were bone white/
And sky blue.
I waved at a cyclist on the other side of the 142 St bridge over the MacKinnon Ravine. The rider waved back. We were seen by each other before disappearing again.
In the IGA parking lot I exchanged hellos with this pedestrian.
By the time I got home, I felt so exhilarated over these intersections offered by a bicycle in the city that I parked my bike and shovelled the walk. I think there are two way to think about shovelling snow. One is you shovel so your neighbours don't report you and you get fined. The other is you move the snow as a way to make strangers moving by feel welcome.
We are all strangers moving by.