The first gust catches me full in the face even before I’ve mounted my bike this morning. Even before I leave the driveway – even as I stand in the doorway of my garage. Today, I decide, will not be about speed, nor will I be riding for distance. I’ll just be riding.
If not for the prodigious and sustained winds, this weekend would be perfect for riding – and in spite of these blasts, I’m not so sure it’s not perfect all the same. This morning, pedaling along at a sedate pace headlong into the wind, I’m enjoying myself: this morning it’s all about the pure joy of freedom, of pointing my bike in whatever direction I choose, living from moment to moment. Struggling up a small hill and directly into a stiff headwind, I pass through a small town square, turn left to circumnavigate the old courthouse around which antebellum buildings are arranged, and suddenly a colossal cloud of huge and countless Cottonwood leaves fly up and around me, dancing through the air, around my wheels, catching in my spokes, circling my head. It’s an incredibly cinematic moment and makes me feel as though I’m in a scene from a movie.
It’s amazing how loud is this onslaught of air that surrounds me, rushing through the tops of trees, tossing leaves and branches and anything loose in a sort of choreographed chaos, skittering across pavement, over curbs, and bounding across front yards. On my iPhone, strains of jazz can faintly still be heard above the roar of squall, Trombone Shorty fades and the sweet notes of Louis Armstrong, strutting with some barbecue becomes the background music of my personal film. My nose is running, and I find myself grinning for no apparent reason like some silly idiot.
From time to time I pause to make a photograph, knowing as I do so that no matter how I compose my image I’ll never be able to capture the joie dde vivre of this morning, where it seems everything around me is energetic, full of life, and in motion. My photograph will be a pale, static reminder of the light and shadow that I find charming, but little else.