Labor day is now past us. Every morning I see children waiting for the bus at the corner as my own kids prepare themselves for preschool. In a few short days we recieved a reminder of the autumn weather now upon us. Some of the best riding of the year.
The air gets brisk and takes on a new scent. I can't describe it very well except to guess that it might be the lower humidity combined with the cooler winds which makes it so.. vibrant. You really wake up on these Fall rides.
The roads are less travelled between now and the beginning of the snows. Although those have been fewer in the recent past, making for some interesting looks from people I know who will have put their motorcycles away while I'm still out there on that midnight blue Vespa scooter. Same thing happened last year. Guys alone in big trucks with HD stickers and wearing leather jackets have the most startled looks. If they would just ride a little longer, even another month, they would know what they've been missing. How can you fault riding a big twin in the Fall when it throws so much heat across you?
Then there are the decorations of the season. It begins with All Hallow's Eve and continues with Thanksgiving. You start seeing strange things like witches appearing to have ridden their brooms right into trees. Jackolanterns in neat rows on porches. It used to be that counting pumpkins on the front steps told you how many kids lived in the house. I've always loved baking the seeds and eating them while watching the Packers take it right to the very edge. Autumn Sunday afternoon traditions.
Thanksgiving plans and dinner with the family. A weekend which begins with a hunting rifle, has a gut busting highlight feast of the traditional birds and ends in another hunt. Usually the following day because that stuff inside turkeys causes you to fall asleep in a recliner whether you meant to or not. Thinking back I realize I always take a long ride a day or so before we go to Grandma's. I guess I have my own traditions.
Best of all is the smell of the burning leaves. The air is crisp. You're riding along looking at the trees adorned in all their color and drift into the blueish cloud of someone's toasting leaf pile. You can't help but wave to the good folks as you pass. You're smiling but they'll never see it inside that full face you're wearing. Still, you know that they know.
Six years ago this morning there were no smiles. There was fear and grief. A nation with revenge on its mind. A subculture which uses religion as its vehicle tried to take away our joy. Emotionally, it was the coldest winter most of us have have ever lived through. That day we all changed whether we wanted to or not.
But we lived on. A resolve to do so seems to be in the spirit of the people of this great nation. I count it a blessing. We remember but we also move forward. Men and women of steel courage take on the fights for us in lands far away. Just so we can hold our heads high in spite of an enemy most of us have never faced. We can lift our faces to the east and know there are those who would give their lives that our and their traditions would continue to be observed.
So I will ride today. I will ride with resolve that I support those men and women in some small way. That my freedom bought so many times over by too often unheralded acts of will and determination over these generations is not forgotten. I write these words with tears in my eyes. For the traditions of our people and this freedom. For those who earned more than enough of it for us all. The dying of autumn, the numb cold of that winter six years ago. But always, always comes the Spring and rebirth.
This nation shall not be broken.