Today's trip home was what I have heard the Irish refer to as a "fine soft day." It was raining gently. It made me think of a mildly out of body experience I had a few years back when I was still towing my youngest home from her preschool using a bike wagon. At the time, in the purest denial, I told myself that the trip was "maybe ten miles" and that the reason I was getting home an hour later and falling over sound asleep with food still hanging out of my mouth was that "I was tired."
I now know that I was bicycling close to three miles to acquire said child and then easily another ten with a fully loaded double-wide Burley.
So possibly I hallucinated the encounter I am about to describe.
I had made it to Bryant Street where I could stop worrying that anyone would yell "fucking child abuser" at me from out their car window. Win.
A gentleman (a term I use rarely) rode up next to me to admire my child and my wagon and my bicycling prowess. In the manner of bicycle commuters we began to converse. He was riding a bicycle with classic lines. He was slim and well maintained. He was en route to a nearby cafe and bookstore ready for a pleasant evening out. He was retired.
We talked about the pleasures of bicycling and it says much about how deep those pleasures are that a person who got up that morning, biked ten miles, worked nine hours, and then had biked another seven with five still to go while pulling a gigantic kite weighted with lead --- still saw bicycling as a pleasure.
We both noticed the trees of Palo Alto which were just coming into their most delicate bloom. He said to me "People who say that the seasons here do not change are not bicyclists."
I never to my knowledge saw him again but I think of those words frequently. The changes in the weather are the more profound for their subtlety. The rain is light, almost mist, and warm. The sun is hot and the air is heavy. The sky is bright and clear and the wind whuffles around your ears. The rain is cold and driving. The air is warm and dry. No day is exactly like another when you are outside experiencing it.