07 May 2010

Fingerprint Friday

don't let the sun go down on meWhen the bike path takes a dip beneath a four- or six-lane highway, daylight is briefly eclipsed. Especially if I'm wearing sunglasses. The effect is magnified when my mind is clouded.

Which is precisely what happened this morning.

I'd taken my first big spill of the year about five miles earlier. It's sort of a tradition. I have to take a big fall each year I train for Ride the Rockies. Hopefully, I'm done now, and I don't have to splatter all over the bike path again in order to satisfy the ritual.

When I first saw the pile of something in the middle of the tunnel-like trail ahead, I thought it might be a spoiled hamburger or other once-edible human meal. Two birds silhouetted against the light at the other end of the darkness tiptoed around the burger as if doing a slow motion Mexican hat dance.

As I got closer, I could see the mass was not food but a tangle of grass, sticks, string and twigs. As I passed it, inadvertently chasing off the would-be "vultures", slowly, the full picture began to come into focus.

My mind was spinning in slow motion. I had been mentally composing what I planned to write next Tuesday about today's still-too-fresh-on-my-bruises brush with near disaster. I was still trying to decide if anything on my body hurt bad enough to warrant a trip to a medical professional, and I’d been pondering how blessed I’d been with a thin frosting of snow that morning. My huge, thick, heavy gloves prevented me from losing a finger or two when my bike tried to take a bite out of a grate following an Armstrong-like cyclocross foray into greenway drainage. So it took a while for me to comprehend first what the three wet spots along the edge of the upside down nest were and then what the three tiny bicycle helmet-looking shells alongside the clear, red and yellow wet spots were.

And then I realized why the “vultures” were hesitant to move too far away from their spilt home. They had been building a family beneath the highway above, until something happened. Life changed in an instant.

My still sluggish brain moseyed to my friend going through chemo. This is her third battle with cancer in as many years.

Tears began to spill freely, and this time, not because my finger was throbbing or my leg was sore. No longer was I recalling every windshield I’d ever replaced, only to be smacked by another tiny piece of gravel the very next day. "It's just my luck," I'd been thinking after my husband repaired the damage to my handlebars. "Of course I get something new on the bike, and then it breaks. Just my luck."

I could not equate the only slightly damaged brand spanking new handlebar tape I’d been so proud of just a few days earlier with the loss of the now homeless birds or the emotions my friend is facing yet again.

Life is fragile. And yet, life is indomitable.

I didn’t stop to take any pictures this morning, but now I realize I should have. Not because I want to sensationalize the pain and suffering of a winged family or even because I want to make a big deal out of a moment of distraction that could have cost me much more than it did.

I should have stopped because… sometimes something is right in front of you, and the next moment, it’s gone.

That’s something I need to be mindful of this weekend.

1 comment :

  1. Seeing that sort of thing just kills a little piece of me inside. But it reminds me of my humaness.


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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