Taking advantage of the beautiful spring days, Stella! and I have headed over to the Minnehaha Falls a couple of times already. My niece and I rode bikes along the creek to the “falls” last fall when the creek had dried up and there was only the merest of trickles falling.
As you know by this point, my grandmother turned 100 last week. When I went to visit her before her birthday, she mentioned that her “big” chocolate bar was missing.
(I am fairly certain that my grandmother and I have very different definitions for “big” when it comes to candy bars. When she gets a box of Russell Stover chocolates – one of her favorites, she’s satisfied eating one piece a day. I, on the other hand, consider a box of chocolates a type of comparison shopping.)
She had been saving that chocolate bar for a “special occasion.” (I could see where one might consider a 100th birthday to be a special occasion.) As she said that though, she kind of chuckled, “Nearly 100, what was I waiting for?”
I would say that the universe is always sending us messages, some more obvious than others. It’s up to us to listen to them. In my grandmother’s case, she could have dwelled on the “missing” part of the chocolate bar, but instead she decided to focus on savoring the moment. Continue reading
Just a week ago, we had yet another April snow storm in Minnesota. This was my first winter back in Minnesota in twenty some years. Walking home in that snow storm, I thought, “Yes, April, we all see you. Yes, very funny, you look just like March. Why don’t you go see where May is.”
I was beginning to think Minnesota wanted me to relive every winter I had missed. Then, April decided to give us the perfect day this weekend. Sunny and warm. Shorts-weather warm. As in, even non-Minnesotans would have worn shorts. (One of my brothers wears shorts all winter long. Most of us wait at least until it gets above freezing.) Continue reading
Unlike a lot of my fellow Minnesotans, I have been waiting for the snow to melt before getting back in the saddle. April, and the bike lanes are finally reappearing from under the snow. As a newcomer to commuting by bike, it took me a while to get used to bike lanes – mainly trusting drivers to stay out of them. Then when I moved back to Minnesota last fall, experimental bikes had been put in my neighborhood. Experimental.
We stared each other down, but I was losing. I tried to be casual, but my knees were shaking as I backed away.
Of course, if I had truly been casual, I would have turned my back on him and walked away. I, however, was not about to turn my back on him. Our history is a long one and I knew there was no trusting him.
His eyes were heavy with contempt as I backed away. I was giving up ground.
To a squirrel. A common grey squirrel. Continue reading
Cranksgiving has nothing to do with my mood yesterday morning, although I was a bit on the dark side of grumpy. No, Cranksgiving is a bike race that began among bike messengers to collect food and donations for local charities in time for Thanksgiving. The first Cranksgiving was held in New York City in 1999, organized by Antonio “Tone” Rodrigues.
Although Cranksgiving started among bike messengers, and unlike most other alleycat races, Cranksgiving now includes anyone who rides a bike and the race has spread to nearly 40 cities in North America. I have never been a bike messenger, but as a novice rider I am thankful to bike messengers for taking back the streets, for reminding us that the streets can be shared. Nor am I the least bit mechanical. Until yesterday I didn’t know a “crank” is what my pedals are attached to. Continue reading
Before my train from Portland arrived in Minnesota last month, I had decided I was going to ride my bike over to my parents’ home, the same house where I grew up. While living in Minnesota, my goal has been to get around by foot or bus like I always have. Or more recently by bike.
I went twenty years without riding a bike. During my first return venture out on a bike, just a few years ago, I nearly jumped the curb and barely avoided running over a row of rental bikes, finally wobbling away to the sound of stifled snickers. Not quite two years ago I bought a bike – Stella!, and added biking to walking and busing as my primary modes of transportation.
Although my sisters have said they would happily drive me places if I needed a ride, I wanted to stay as true to my goal as possible. Plus, there’s a freedom to getting around on your own. With that goal in mind, I was going to check out the route to my parents’ house.
The challenge – I live 60 miles away from my parents. Continue reading
This past year while I was still living in Oregon, Portland took back its ranking as the number one bike-friendly city in the U.S. That made sense to me. Portland feels like a compact city for its size with a strong bike culture, lots of bike lanes, great weather in the summer, and if you don’t mind a little rain, decent weather in the winter.
Minneapolis had been ranked number one the previous year. Perhaps I should have shown more loyalty to my home state, but I was dubious of that ranking. Minneapolis always felt so spread out to me. During visits home over the years, I always saw Minneapolis from the passenger seat of a car, paying little attention to distances. And snow? Can we talk about the snow?
Wait, strike that. Let’s hope we can wait a month or two more before we have to talk about snow. Continue reading
This past week I moved to Minneapolis. I grew up in a small town an hour west of Minneapolis, but I haven’t lived in Minnesota for more than 20 years. Having grown up in Minnesota, I am, of course, familiar with the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but during family visits, I was always a passenger, never having to pay attention to routes. That gave my first day a weird feeling of familiarity without knowing how to get anywhere.
Luckily, a friend knew I get around by bike and had suggested a few routes to try. Even luckier for my poor waistband, one of the routes (unbeknownst to my friend) was from my house to my new gym. So to give myself a sense of purpose on my first day in Minnesota, I decided to ride my bike to the gym.