Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bookfield, Turkey Farm - Part 1

One day I headed out for the distant reaches of my territory. After all of the familiar roads I came to a highway with two lanes in either direction that was not restricted to bicycle traffic. There were hardly any cars on the road and it seemed to lead to where there may be more rural dwellings. The side of the road had a gravel ditch that was lined with tall grass and wildflowers. Beyond that were fields of soy beans as far as I could see. The asphalt was newly paved and smooth. Its black top was almost shiny in the hot sun and I tried to aim my wheels for the white line. I pictured that my wheels would be cooler on that line, like bare feet would stay cool by walking on it. It also gave me a distraction as I pedaled monotonously yard after yard, mile after mile.

Ahead there was a long straight part of the road with the road somewhat rose up from the land on either side. I put my head down to lower wind resistance and pedaled seriously ahead, all on the white line. From behind I heard the deep blare of a diesel truck horn. I glanced over my left shoulder and saw a semi truck approaching. It gleamed silvery white and seemed as if made of liquid viewed through the hot air rising off the road. The four lane highway was plenty big enough for both of us, so I stayed on my line and maintained my speed. The truck roared up behind me more quickly than I had anticipated. He was moving well over the speed limit. In a frightening moment I realized that the semi was in the same lane as me instead of the open inside lane. Sometimes cars would clock my speed and yell it out to me as they went by. But it didn’t seem that was the case this time. I carefully edged my bike to the smooth shoulder of the road. Shit, I thought as he got closer, was he going to run me down? The truck blew by with the sound of a tornado. I hung tightly onto my handlebars, tensed my body and squeezed my eyes shut. I could feel the suction seem to lift my bike from the road as the truck passed and bits of road dirt were swept up and hit my face.

There was a flash and suddenly there was no sound at all, just darkness. Peace and calm surrounded me on all sides like a blanket. I felt nothing. My eyes were open but suddenly I was aware of only a bright white light everywhere. The whiteness seemed to tinge with pale blue. I was lying on my back staring straight up into the sky. The searing white sunlight made the world a pale and unreal place. A monarch butterfly flapped its gentle golden brown wings without sound as it flitted above me and alit onto a near by Queen Anne’s Lace flower. The stem of the flower bent under the butterfly’s weight and came into my view. I breathed in the peace and beauty of this small part of nature. I heard the buzzing of bees on the golden yellow asters and black eyed susans. I lifted my hand and the butterfly moved to touch my finger, and then sailed off to the sky, lost in the white light.

It took several moments for me to remember the truck. I had been on my bike last I could remember. It was a struggle shaking off a feeling of weightlessness and to feel the weight of my body. I lifted my head, and then sat up slowly. I was lying in the bottom of the ditch by the road. The flowers on the ditch’s sides had framed the sky from where I laid. My bicycle was at my feet, on its side in the ditch. I could not feel any pain anywhere, but I stood slowly and cautiously. There was a small scratch on my elbow, but otherwise I was unharmed. My bike was not damaged either. The truck was nowhere to be seen.

The monarch returned as if to check on me, but seeing that I was alright, it flew off. I felt washed clean by this experience, as if baptized in the white light. It was as if I had died, and was reborn into a new life. My past sorrows no longer existed, but neither did the future. Nothing needed to exist in the future; there was only the now, the vast and beautiful now. The wild flowers, the bright white sky, the bees and butterflies were the whole world at that moment. I felt dizzy with the ecstasy of mere existence and sat back down in the ditch, surrounded by flowers and exalted in breathing in the fragrant air of the now. If that had truly been the last moment of my life, I felt reassured that it would have been alright to die. At the same time, I was absolved of the sin of almost dying, but then living.

The heat of the sun made a trickle of sweat roll down the side of my face. It was time to move on. I stood again and lifted my bike with one hand. I climbed from the ditch. Once on the road I looked back down. I saw only a gravel ditch choked with weeds. I smiled because although the place seemed ordinary I knew that it was not. It was the first place I had seen in this new existence. It was my Garden of Eden. To go forward I knew that I had to leave it behind. I plucked a black eyed susans and tucked its stem into my pants pocket. That’s the deal in life, I thought.

I swung my leg backwards over the seat while depressing the other pedal and glided the bike to a consistent roll. I rode on into the heated air over the asphalt, my tire making a sticking noise as the tread made contact with the tar. My body seemed magically drawn forward in time and space with every fragment of time separately representing the now.

1 comment:

Brad said...
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