It might as well be spring.
The trees are bright and silver, the way they are in spring.
The Christmas just past may has well have been Oklahoma. Flowers were faked out, there among the hemlocks, the pines along the Holland River where I bike a lot.
Today, I am biking with a group led by a man called Fish. He is seventy and can pass for fifty, younger even.
Though his face is parchment, his fine legs are ageless, almost gay in his tight shorts as he easily rounds the corner of the bikepath and turns his helpeted head to urge the rest of us on.
Wle are an eclectic crew. Frigginbunchaneurotics.
The effort of biking has freed us from pedalling against another load, a pushcart fulll of pain that many of us had been pedalling against, often backpedalling against the awful weight of it all. Everybody in the group is ushing or carrying something.
Baggage from another marriage, the great sprawling novel that hardly any publisher wanted to take, the smoky air of distant barrooms, the white line on the asphalt bikepath reminding you of other lines you had done, and somehow recovered from.
There is the real hop of a steamer on the horizon--that we shall be rescued from this Raft of the Medusa by a jovial, somehow Germanic sea captain. Santa Claus from the season just gone by?
One must be chary of such a notion.
Recovery is miraculous and dramatic. It may come this spring, or it may not. The local Indians will tell you that it is all on the whim of the Creator.
In the meantime, the Indians will tell you to stay away from waterfalls, great confluences of water. And large lakes, like Simcoe, for there is an agepogee in each one, each with its own monster.
We ride side-by-side, some of us. Then uncouple to ride along somebody else. We talk of family, hopes achievements, cycling achievments, dreams.
What has brought us to this bikepath, along a river, along these aspens, along these larches known in Canada as tamaracks. Tamaracks seem to the greenhorn like so many reddened, discarded Christmas trees, but they are not, for these conifers will regain their needles and will again be bright and bushy.
Hopefully like us.
I am talking to a lady lready in capri pants and white sneakers.
Like me on this almost-springtime January, she is a little whimsical, vulerable and kind of shy. But she is in there pedalling for all she's worth, like an out-of-wedlock teenager pushing a baby carriage. Maybe she does push a baby carriage.
God and good people. The people are still good, but this is a dark age and the liberal sentiment proclaims one thing and then practises its opposite. Randy ministers and gay Conservatives.
They have stolen the welfare money. First sign of the Mob getting into government.
They have probably taken my riding partner's welfare money. Lazy woman? No.. Decided to work at McDonald's and they have taken away all her benefits. She barely gets eight dollars an hour now and daycare is hard to get.
She gulps air and keeps her beautifully eyebrowed visage straight ahead.
I move to another party.
And entire family, father in tights and shorts. Helmeted mother in ski pants and yellow top. Little ginger-haired daugher in shorts and sandals, doughtily holding up the rear.
We are all pedalling, moving, moving, past the trees, past the bird, pst the pair of discareded horses of green clay and other small bits of rubbish aling the Holland River. We seem, in all this dormant vegetation, to be already moving toward spring.
Ahead of us is the ringing of Fish's bell. He has seen something on the path. He rings again.
There is a huge snapping turtle on the path. Not impressed by us. Moving in that robot-like slowness. But just stick your toe out!
All turtles were once birds.
It is going to take a very long time to fly.