Spring is coming. Eventually. It always takes longer than we hope it will, but it will be here soon. When Spring comes to Maine, possibilities open up. Now we can venture forth and garden, clean the yard and the garage, and prepare for staying outdoors longer each day.
When I was a child, Spring also meant Bicycles. For those of us growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, our bicycles represented many things to us; but foremost, they meant Freedom. Children in that time were far less aware of their rights and far less entitled. We saw the privilege of riding our bikes as a window of opportunity to take control of our time and choices. This Freedom meant we could ride away from the scrutiny of our parents, and be unimpeded in our important affairs.Granted, my freedom only extended to my block; still, it was independence. Sweet, gratifying autonomy.
We rode with our friends down the street and, perhaps, around the block if we were really feeling adventurous. We had plastic streamers in bright colors attached to our bike handles. If we were lucky, we had a horn to blow. Our bicycles gave us status, and we took pride in them. You probably did not get a new one for many years, so you were very careful to take care of your bike. It was, after all, your “ride”.
There was a feeling of taking part in the World in a different way, when you were on your bike. Suddenly, you could direct your travel and choose your Path; these were big concepts when almost all of your choices were made by your parents and teachers. On your bike you were in charge. Should we go to the corner store and buy penny candy with our grubby nickels and dimes? Should we ride by the house of the cute boy who sat next to us in school? Maybe we should pretend we are riding the range on our trusty horses? All of these momentous decisions could be made by us; no older siblings or parents involved. We were humans weighing our options.
Bicycles taught us many things that we would need to go a bit further on our Path.
- If you fall down, dust yourself off and get back up on the bike again.
- If someone gets hurt, carry them home on your bike.
- If you take care of your bike, it will last a long time.
- If you ride too far from Home, you might have trouble finding your way back.
They say that once you learn something, you never really forget it. It’s like riding a bike.