Driving and Biking in the Big City

A kid of the outdoor generation

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Happy trails 2This week, I’ve biked most evenings after work, and I’ve been doing this for the years since I stopped playing tennis four to six times a week. It’s my attempt at balancing the eight hours a day that I spend behind a desk and indoors. It is in my DNA, and I can’t really settle down to my evening at home until I’ve first spent some time outside — especially in the rain on hot summer days when the rain is a plus instead of a minus.

I’m a kid of the outdoor generation. We had nothing much on television, not any video games and very little parental guidance or even involvement. Our parents were too busy making a living to wonder much about the kids, especially when there was a neighborhood full of them to keep each other entertained.

I remember skating with my new pair of roller skates and my brand new key all around the “carport” beside my post World War II era home. We had canals around the margins of our streets in sea level Port Neches, Texas, and there was always something interesting about the water — even if we were discouraged from swimming in it. My girlhood friends and I would “walk the pipe” over the canals, proving our balance and our courage but occasionally falling in and causing hubbub because no one was supposed to “walk the pipe.”

We’d catch “mosquito hawks” or dragonflies as they landed on the clothes line. We’d get an empty mason jar and see how many honey bees we could catch before it got too full. We’d look for four-leaf clovers for hours and hours, until that became a skill I still have today and probably helped teach me to be an editor with an eagle eye and perseverance.dragonfly

We’d play softball and fly kites in the way back area between our backyards and the canals. My neighborhood full of boys had more than enough kids to make up teams of anything. I learned my competitive nature by being raised as the youngest kid in a neighborhood full of mostly athletic boys. I wasn’t even as good at playing board games so I got used to losing and trying harder at an early age.

We shot BB guns and bows and arrows and became good shots by nature. I remember asking for and receiving my first BB gun when I was a sixth grader, about to enter junior high and the world of cute boys. Little did I know that my tomboy ways would be distracted so soon and so thoroughly.

I remember when I got my first and only childhood bike. None of this buying bikes for different sizes and styles. It was one bike for life. It was blue, my favorite color, and it lasted until I was in high school and bought my own 10-speed, expensive enough on my $1.60 an hour salary and unassembled to save just a little. Who had heard of a 10-speed? And now folks are going back to our one-speed, easy breaking bikes of my childhood. They call it “fixed-gear” bikes, and it’s all the rage. Took me awhile to realize that I knew exactly what they meant and could ride a “fixed-gear” into oblivion. There are excellent tricks to it, and it was bred into me like the Texas heat and mosquitos.

I still can remember reading the instructions carefully and putting my 10-speed together in the backyard. That’s the same bike I brought into my marriage a few years later to bike my way to classes at Lamar University in Beaumont. It was sadly one of three bikes I had stolen as I learned the high crime rate of college campuses and the precious nature of a faster mode of transportation.

So, now when I get a day off of work, one of my favorite activities is to play outside like the kid I will always be. I want to look at a spider’s web really close up and personal. I want to watch an ant travel to its ultimate destination. I wonder what this plant is and why it looks so much like a map of the United States. I wait for something new and intriguing that I’ve never seen or seldom see these days — a bunny, a cool snake, a raccoon, a possum.

Then, I hop on my bike and take my observation skills on the greenbelt paths of Kingwood where there’s always something new to see on the same old traveled paths. If I’m lucky, I catch sight of a deer in the distance. If I time my ride home just right at dusk, I see fireflies along this very close patch of dense bushes. Flowers and friends and dogs of all varieties. All interesting and unique.

It’s just like riding a bike. You never forget.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

August 15, 2013 at 9:15 am

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