Showing posts from May, 2015

Lilies, The River Valley, And The Master of Arts *

We weren't together this morning, but we were:

This morning, Shelagh pedalled out to work first, but not before stopping to pick two lily of the valley stalks from the side of the house.

She planted them in the little vase on the frame of her Linus.

Half an hour later, I headed out. When you're on a bicycle, you notice big things. Like the sky.

And little things. Like two stalks of lily of the valley lying on the bridge over the MacKinnon Ravine.

And, on a bicycle, I do what you can do, which is stop and turn around and, while traffic on its metalled tracks flows in the opposite direction…

…pick up the flowers off the concrete.

And I thread them along my handlebars.

Until the end of the day when, at our park bench meeting place,

I see Shelagh riding into view.

She gets her flowers back.

And the Linus does, too.

*The title is a tortured tribute to Dylan's Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, which has been on a loop in my brain's audio room since I found the flowers. …

Shouldice Bridge

On the old Shouldice Bridge yesterday I stood
As a bicycle glided by. A father pedalled,
While, behind, in a tiny chair seated,
Was his daughter.
And she held a lilac stem with two hands, while she listened to it.
And there was no time in the world to use a smartphone
To record this picture passing.

Making Winter Work

Quick note off the top: I hope to attend the Winter Cycling Congress in Minneapolis next February, where the theme is equity. To get my thoughts started, I put together a draft Pecha Kucha-style storyboard on the question of winter cycling and ownership—even though it's May and there is no snow in the forecast. It's not exactly what in cycling circles is meant by equity, or maybe in a way it is. In Happy City (read it, btw), Charles Montgomery writes: "Despite the obvious effort [my emphasis] involved, self-propelled commuters report feeling that their trips are easier [his] than the trips of people who sit still for most of the journey." I wanted to explore that idea, and see if something in addition to good feeling isn't being lost in our thinking about winter and bicycling. I wanted to think about work and ownership. This draft starts with John Locke and ends with Bob Mould, with some David Byrne and Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and John Hiatt sprinkled in…

I Ran Into Hermes On The Road

I don't ride my bike all over the place because it's ecological or worthy. I mainly do it for the sense of freedom and exhilaration.
                                                                                  - David Byrne

These are preliminary notes on what a different kind of traffic app would feel like. Different because that old coder Hermes isn't in on the development of this one.

The cunning Hermes, as Lewis Hyde has shared, has enjoyed quite a life. Wherever trade and exchange and money and the movement of merchandise need protection, he is with us still. Here is Hyde from The Gift:
If we imagine an ancient road at dusk, a road passing through no-man's land and connecting two towns but itself neither here nor there, we will begin to imagine the ancient Hermes, for he is the God of Roads, identified not with any home or hearth or mountain but with the traveler on the highway. Hermes, says Hyde, is present wherever things move quickly without regard to conten…

scene, sentence, song: 5.9.15

I have wondered for awhile if most of the time we just get it plain wrong, and that what really counts is whether a young man running up to a bus stop bench in the city still launches himself onto it and then returns safely to the ground—without knowing anyone is watching.

(Music is The Analog Kid. Rush.)

10 Shots From NOTY

I was rolling as I rode home from my folks' place this afternoon. Here is some of what I saw North of the Yellowhead.

Me And Cal

This is Cal. He's 82 years old. He likes to ride his bicycle. Cal has trouble with one of his hips and that makes it a little hard to walk. But not to ride. And riding, he says, actually makes it easier to walk for awhile after pedalling.

"When you're on a bike you're just using your own power," he said.

Cal moves that bicycle slowly. The cars and trucks whipped past us along 127 St. this afternoon. There were still hail pellets on the asphalt. We talked about things at about 8 kmh.

Cal was still fired up when I first slowed down to ride with him for those few blocks north. On Stony Plain Road, he said, he had stopped at two businesses to ask to use the washroom. They said no.

"I'm 82 years old," he said. "I'm not going to damage the place. I should have just taken a leak right there and fought it in court."

Okay, Cal is my kind of guy.

Cal still had another 30 blocks to go to get home.

Cal has been riding his current bike for about a …

Ahead, Behind, Above, Beside

I am reminded again this morning as I watch the Tour de Yorkshire and sip an espresso (from a mug that Shelagh brought home from Toronto as a gift for me 30 years ago or so) how delicious is the deception of the camera. 
A televised professional bicycle race is typically enjoyed from four points of view. Left to right in the pic below, they are, quite obviously, the views from ahead, behind, above, and beside.

What they share in common is their own movement. Again, quite obviously, the cameras themselves, whether attached to pace cars, motorcycles or helicopters, are in motion. The spectator at the actual race does not share these views. For him, for her, for them, for all those rooted ones who line the roads, the race is experienced not as a switch between shots but, rather, as a swoosh of a shot going by and, then, gone.

That swoosh is how I remember the peleton flying past as I stood on Fort Road last year (the elementary school I went to  ust a few blocks north on 66 St., but 40 …