Thursday, April 05, 2012


There's a special feeling when you take that first ride of the season.  Part of you, no matter how many times you check things over before you even fire up the bike, anticipates something catastrophic happening during that first venture out.  You listen so much more closely to every sound, every tick.  You veer back and forth on empty straight roads just to get the senses in touch with how a scooter feels when it leans.  You find yourself squinting at the road ahead, from a carlength to far into the distance.  No one likes to slide out on gravel.  You're watching every driveway, every intersection.  Looking for stray pets and suicidal squirrels.

Then it happens.  You settle down.  Maybe it's by small increments but you begin to enjoy the ride again.  A deep breath brings dry spring air into you.  Another and the smells begin to revive you.  Before long you're in that frame of mind where you're most comfortable.  The dual state of calm cautiousness and content.  You're just happy to be on the road again.

A squirrel pops its head out from a bush next to the road.  Part of you jars into awareness.  Will it dart out ahead of you?  It's doing that... thing.  You know what I'm talking about.  That thing where it bobs its head up and down trying to decided if it can cross the road.  I swear the damn squirrels around here have their own little game of chicken.  Maybe its how they transition from youth to man-squirrels in Squirrel World, I dunno.  The plump little guy (ok, that's an assumption but I'm taking it) decides to just watch me ride by.  We glare at each other.  I've got my eye on you, squirrel.

I leave the neighborhood and pass through farmlands.  Some already tilled by anxious farmers, some still wearing the clipped stalks of last year's corn.  I ride out to my own farm, twenty odd miles from my house in town.  Nature is still not quite awoken.  Everything wears the same light palates of brown it had before and duringf winter.  The roads were almost devoid of gravel and winter salt residue.  A false sense of security. I still slowed down for each bend in the road.

The sun is warm and the sky a beautiful hue of deep blue.  The ground beside the road still looks hard and dry.  We've had little spring rain and even less snow since the Vespa was put away.  Gotta remember to bring something to drink next time I ride.

From a distance of probably just shy of a half mile I can see my land on the top of the hill.  The soil is light brown and hasn't been tilled yet.  But there are signs other tracts have been turned.  Too early to be doing that, I think to myself.  But what do I know...  I'm no farmer.  Just a land owner whose got the property because there isn't much of real value in this world besides the house you live in and the land you own.  It was always understood that one day I would heed my uncles' advice and apply some of my savings toward as much land as I could reasonably afford.  Wise men they are, as Yoda would say.

I swuing back to the T intersection and meandered past where I would normally turn toward home.  Then headed further out and let the little 150 run at speeds it felt most comfortable.  There's something really nice about how a Leader 150cc engine sounds when it's clipping along the country roads.  No stop lights, no stop signs.  Just the even thrum of a single cylinder climbing and descending the minor hills of central Minnesota.

When a particular ride is a good one, there's a sense that you've been on the road for longer than you really were.  That somehow the cobwebs have been cleared away not because of the distance you rode, but because the ride was... good.  There are long vacations and there are short vacations.  Too many variables to anylize it all now.  Different kinds of rides meet different kinds of needs.  That seems to say it well enough.

It is good to have the Vespa.