the pedaler

by bam

whenever i hop on my old blue bike, i hear the “wizard of oz” bicycle theme in my head. you know, the one with the pedaling witch. the one that goes like this: da-da-da-da-da-daaaah-da. you probably knew what i meant before i spelled it out. and now, oops, sorry, you’ll be singing it all day. one of those mind gnats that won’t go away.
the reason i bring up my old bike, and even better, my old wicker basket, is because it’s the old lady i always wanted to be. the carefree one, the one with time to pedal through the village, collecting her wares. the bread from her breadman, the milk from the farmer at the end of the lane, the tomatoes from the vine in the patch that is mine.
i would, in my blurry-edged vision, stop to chat with a passerby. ferry tomatoes to a neighbor who’s ailing. wear my wide-brimmed hat, the one with the ribbon that ripples as it blows in the breeze back behind me.
i would cast lupine seeds as i pedaled.
erk! screech on the brakes.
i am, you see, getting carried away, pretending i live in a picture book, tucked in the pages where drawings are pretty, where colors come dabbed on the end of a brush. i do that sometimes, get carried away.
and that, here, is the point: my bike and my sweet little basket are follies. they stand for the way i wish life would be. a life that didn’t demand scrounging for keys, racing out doors, bottom-dropping into the front seat, screeching away from the curb, dashing to get somewhere, something, someone before i was late, caught without milk for the children, reported to the department of children and family services for leaving my little one at school overnight.
at least the last of those has not ever happened. i’ve been late plenty. pretended it was breakfast-for-dinner night, made do with orange juice. but not yet, like a friend of mine, did i forget, ‘til the school called her, to pick up a child.
dear lord, what is this gerbil wheel we scamper on? and why is it we run as if the big steam iron in the sky was chasing behind us, ready to press against flesh if we did not get all done on time, if we slacked a wee little?
or maybe it’s just me. maybe i’m the only one cranked up like a cuckoo clock. but, psst, here’s a secret: i’ve been watching, and i dare not think i’m alone. here’s another secret: it’s nuts out there.
domestic tranquility is what happens in the middle of the night when, for once, all bodies are accounted for, and deeply asleep.
the minute one eyeball is opened on but one of those bodies, the chance of teetering into the chaos that is the norm in these times, is, well, you might want to bet your allowance on it.
it seems we are, many of us, overstuffing the sausage that is our fat little roly-poly lives. and so, the old car at the curb, the one that might as well sleep with the motor on, so we could shave seconds from errands that don’t quite fit in the puzzle, that are too far, really, that are too many, for certain, that old car, maybe might be the curse, but it might hold the cure.
what if we lived lives reined in by the pedals on our old under-used bikes? what if we pedaled as far as the village, and not so much farther? what if we filled our old baskets, carried home what we could? what if we were powered by thigh muscles and not fuel sucked from the earth?
what if our wide-brimmed hat, not our keys, hung by the door? what if we stopped to talk to the folks on the sidewalk?
oh, goodness gracious, i know it’s naive. i know it is silly. but all that i’m saying is we’ve got to do something. seems a bike and a basket might make for a swell place to start.
might as well make like the witch on the wizard of oz. put our toes to the pedal. push with all of our might.
give it a whirl.
you know the words: da-da-da-da-da-daaaah-da.

okey doke, folks. your turn. one: do you ever think your life’s out of hand? your days too packed? your errands too many? two: do you have some little folly, some something you keep close at hand just to remind you to slow down, to simplify, to savor the gift of each blessed hour?