The Road Home

July, 2007

For the last twelve years a small tar and chip road riddled with pot holes has led to my home. This little road runs from an honest real road winding past an old Lutheran church and cemetery, between hay fields, through a tunnel of over arching tree limbs and between cow pastures before finally rejoining another real road again. It’s a genuine shortcut.

Winters on this little road can be a lot fun or a pain depending upon the vehicle you’re driving. Large snow drifts develop on the road that the daring soul with ground clearance and four wheel drive can blast through throwing snow in all directions. You’re blind while doing this as the snow quickly overwhelms your windshield wipers. Stray to the left or right and you’re into a ditch you are not getting out of or over a hill which might be disastrous for your car or truck. Like I said, it is adventure only for the daring.

The tunnel is a very narrow section with overhanging tree limbs. During the winter this section of rutted rough road can be magical. After a snow it seems like you’re on the road to the ice kingdom and are very near to the castle where the ice Lord lives. In the summer the tunnel is noticeably cooler because of the generous shade the arching tree limbs provide. When it rains and the leaves are pressed together by the weight of the water you very nearly need your headlights to navigate the darkened passageway.

Wildlife, cattle and horses live on both sides of this little road. Deer, turkey, and at least two fox cross regularly. Occasionally one may spot a black bear ambling purposefully across the road. One evening I followed a skunk for nearly half a mile! My son and I laughed heartily as it skipped Peppy Le Pew like before finding a spot it felt was safe for leaving the road. That skunk was in no hurry and I wasn’t eager to encourage or otherwise disturb it any more than we already had.

Farm tractors laden with all sorts of attachments make their way back and forth along this road. Depending upon the season they carry attachments for plowing, or raking, or bailing, or any of the seemingly infinite number of things that farmers need to do. Some of the tractors are smallish and cute while others are huge and surrounded by the high pitched whistle of their turbine driven engines. All of the tractors, big and small, mean business. They are not parading about on leisurely strolls, they are on a mission.

On July 16th, this wonderful little path will no longer lead me home. That is such an alien thought. It feels like I’ve had a long drink of a fatal poison to write such a thing. The ach in my belly feels as if it could be symptomatic of a mortal wound. Leaving this place was the best thing to do. All of my thought processes lead to a single conclusion. Take the job. Sell the house. Move.

I am consoled with the knowledge that my thoughtful wife concurs with my reasoning. Then there is the couple that bought the house. They are young and expecting their first child. The road is smooth and straight in front of our/their house. Their child, like ours will be safe riding his/her bike on it, walking it to the school bus stop, and learning to drive on it.

This is not the midlife crisis I expected. Parting with my companion of twelve years. Leaving her for paths unknown and uncharted by me. Shouldn’t I just be buying a sports car? Wasn’t skydiving invented for just such a crisis?

On July 17th the road home will lead to Korea. Where it will take me from there I cannot begin to guess. I know only that at its end is my home and there I will either live or my body will lie.

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Warning

Written Aug 21, 2007

Where is the warning label that is supposed to be on bicycles? Surely there is supposed to be one.

Here are the ugly details. 48 years old, 5’7″, 220 pounds, until 11 months ago smoked like a steam locomotive, leading a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

I bought a bike three days ago. That is, a bicycle. Peddle powered. First time out I took it easy. A casual little 2 mile stroll through the rice fields. Is it OK to call them rice fields?

I’ve heard the phrase rice paddy before. Is that what these are? These large plots of flooded land with lush green rice plants growing in them? As the plants mature the seedy tops begin turning from green to golden. Some are starting to do that now. You can tell which fields/paddies were planted first by looking at the color of the seed heads.

Second day out I’m on a mission. I intend to ride nine miles from home to my work site and back. It’s just over 18 miles all together. Seriously, how hard can nine miles be in flat land? Most of the trip is through the rice fields safely protected from traffic. Only the first and last miles have any hill climbing or exposure to traffic involved in them. Nine miles in, nine miles back. Piece of cake.

9.27 miles later, according to the GPS, I’m at Burger King soaking wet with sweat, ordering breakfast and coffee. As if I needed a diuretic to assist me in my efforts at total, potentially fatal dehydration. I must have been a disgusting site for the other diners. They were all fresh and clean looking as if they were recently showered and powdered and combed and, uh, groomed.

And me? Great rivers of sweat ran down my face and neck. My tee-shirt was two tone. The lower dangling part of the shirt was its normal blue color while the upper part was a much darker, wet blue, and clinging tightly as only soaked cotton can. I had wisely thought to really slop on the deodorant so I was doing OK in the stink department. A quick sniff of the pit area confirmed odor abatement success. “I’ll have the number two, large coffee please.” I heard my red face proclaim.

There had been a morning sea fog covering the area so I hadn’t been riding in the sun as much as in the shade and still I was soaked. Breakfast eaten I went to the office for two hours of work (disguised rest). My office has an exceedingly good air conditioner. As I sat there in the air conditioned comfort of my office my legs began to remind me of the torture I had just inflicted upon them. I’m sure they were collaborating with each other as they both began to become sluggish and stiff. I had to be off for home before they opted for a work stoppage.

There was no sea fog now. Pure unadulterated brilliant sunshine with 90% humidity. Lovely day for a ride. I would later discover the temperature to be 92 but that little fact escaped me at the onset.

Nearly home I began to tremble. My body had consumed all of the readily available energy at its disposal. Workout enthusiasts have a phrase for it. I think it’s called boinging or maybe boinking. I call it an intolerably low blood glucose level. I guess it takes a while to start pulling on the energy reserves stored up in my ample belly.

Seven years and thirty pounds lighter ago I noticed the body’s rapid use of readily available energy while climbing Mt Fuji. Now as then I noticed the trembling when I stopped to drink some of the water I had brought along. Climbing Fuji I had anticipated the need for rapid energy replenishment. I had not given nearly as much thought to this little excursion.

I was only about two miles from home.

One mile later, sitting on a bridge while traffic whizzed by, I stopped to take more water. The trembling was worse now and my mouth had gone from dry to sticky. Yep, sticky. That point when you can feel the parts of your mouth pulling on the other parts as you try to open it. When your tongue is Elmer’s glued to both the roof and floor of your mouth. It’s as if your tongue were a finely applied line of denture adhesive designed to keep the floor of your mouth firmly in contact with the roof. No slippage here! Thirsty is an improvement on this stage of dehydration.

I consumed the last of my water and pressed on. This was the hardest part of the return journey. Cross four lanes of very dangerous traffic (I think all traffic in Korea is dangerous), over a pretty good sized hill and a three tenths of a mile later I’m home.

I turned the AC on and searched for a quick way to both hydrate and energize simultaneously. The answer? Fresh Honey dew melon in the fridge. I ate three quarters of it. Yep. That’s three over four. I wanted to eat the last quarter but I was afraid the melon might return to torture me by exiting my body via the same pathway it had entered. It seemed important to me that the melon make the entire journey through my alimentary canal.

The GPS indicated a trip of 18.7 something miles. It felt more like 187.
I took another ride today. It was much more reasonable ride of just 7.3 miles according to Google earth. But still, my body aches. Legs, back and for some reason, arms.

So here’s the warning. Fat old guys who buy a new bike should break them in slowly. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

It was an accident!

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

C.S. Lewis

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened”.
Winston Churchill

Sacred Places

Sacred Places