I have several sisters who run. They impress me, running 10K and half-marathon races just because they like to. I’ve tried, and while I can make myself run, I can’t make myself enjoy it enough to persist. I did enjoy biking, once upon a time. I used to have a beautiful racing bike for getting around the big city, but once I moved back to the country, I needed to get a sturdier mountain bike for the gravel roads. It was heavy and sluggish, compared to my old bike, so while I made do, it definitely wasn’t as much fun.
A few weeks ago, after admitting that I was never going to get into running, I bought a new bike. Technology has changed since my university days–I was able to get a hybrid racing bike, one with tires that can withstand gravel and grass. This morning was a great time to be out. I lost count of how many goldfinches I saw. I love watching them fly, darting along a quick up-and-down path as they alternately flap their wings and tuck them in.
I passed an older gentleman working on his huge vegetable and flower garden. I’m sure I have never seen so many rows of zinnias in my life. My family used to plant a large garden each year, and my mother would plant one or two rows in flowers (never enough for my liking), including zinnias. I still love them, because they are such cheery flowers, with their unfailingly bright colours and sturdy petals.
At one point, a farmer passed me from behind. Without a shoulder, just a grassy ditchbank, there wasn’t anywhere for me to go to get out of his way. So, it was a relief when he slowed down and pulled over as far as he could. I saw him check over his shoulder to make sure that he didn’t snag me with the giant teeth of the upturned cultivator as he passed by. Courtesy lives on.
The freight train that I waited for made me think of the days when my parents would send me, along with my brother and one of my sisters, to hoe the field that they rented from a neighbour. I think we started working alone for half-day stretches when I was about 10. My brother would have been 9, and my sister 8. (In this case, child labour didn’t hurt anyone!) There was a kind, grandmotherly woman who lived there, and she kept half an eye on us. The railway line separated us from the road, so aside from her, the trains were the only sign of the outside world. It was a bit difficult to be working alone at that age, so it was fun when the engineer would wave at us on the way by. It helped make the time go faster as we waited for our dad to pick us up.
Maybe the best part of riding today was being able to let my mind relax so I could just enjoy a beautiful summer day. It’s easy to let my days disappear into a never-ending list of chores and errands. I think we all have such a list, but I regularly need to remind myself that God didn’t put us here only to work. This world is full of gifts, and I want to pay attention to those gifts more often. I want to make sure I let the important things leave their mark on me on their way by.