Thursday, October 23, 2008

riding through leaves

it is cold outside this morning.
according to my desktop weather channel, it is 33 but feels like 27.
and on my way back from driving my girls to school, I passed a bicycle commuter pulling a small child in one of those little bubble trailers. I see him regularly, and of course I've made up a terribly romantic story about him:
his name is george, and his wife died of cancer earlier this year, leaving him to care for his three year old son, ryan. george has always been fit, and started commuting by bicycle from his house in sugarhouse up to research park about 5 years ago. but once his wife became ill and then incapacitated, george had to take on the child-care responsibility as well. so he cheerfully hooked the bubble trailer to his bike, and started delivering his son to the montessori program right up the street from me.
since his wife died, he has rounded up some help from many of her friends, who help get ryan from the montessori school to the regular day care up in research park. he then picks ryan up on his way home from work, cruising downhill past my house each late afternoon.
george was devastated by his wife's illness and subsequent death, but he is doing what he has to do. the miles he puts in on his bike each day to and from work are some of the best hours of his day: on the way up to research park he is working hard, muscles firing, heart and lungs kicking in full gear. this is pure workout, time that thought recedes and instinct takes over. his mind is free from worry, hurt, pain, and loss. on the way home, he gets a downhill rush, feels the joy of being in open air, whether it be sun or rain or clouds or cold. george has all the proper gear for any season, and he's an expert at predicting what he'll need to wear each day. he, too, keeps the desktop weather channel on his computer screen.
as difficult as things have been since his wife died, he still finds joy in small things, and is grateful to have ryan. he sees his wife in ryan's eyes, and he senses her each night as he tucks ryan in. she's still around, just differently, just as a silent presence. ryan tells her goodnight, and that he loves her, as he closes his eyes and rests his head on his pillow with the curious george pillowcase. ryan just loves the fact that his dad was named after a monkey.
something ryan has discovered this fall is leaves. they have three impressive, ancient trees on their front lawn, who have been releasing their leaves slowly over these past weeks. ryan loves to play in them, to gather them up and throw them into the air, letting them float down over his head and body. ryan giggles, then stamps his feet and waves his alarms and lets out big Indian warrior woops. george smiles, and rakes a new pile for ryan.
but ryan has also discovered that some people's trees are way ahead of his: there is a certain street they ride down that is literally covered in bright yellow and pale orange leaves, and not only are they so alive with color, they are full of beautiful noise.
this ryan learned the other day when his dad was pulling him in the bubble trailer: the leaves crackle and snap and sound like little firecrackers when the wheels go over them, and then they scatter and blow away as the trailer passes. ryan laughs and laughs when they do this, and george has started to look for gathering of leaves to ride through, so that he can hear his son's giggles float up to him as they ride along the street, on the way to ryan's school and george's work.

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