Back in May, when the four glorious months of summer lay before me like a vast, expansive ocean, I had the luxury of fantasy. I imaged myself, summer skirts flowing and carrying a basket full of flowers, gliding over pavement on my bicycle.
When the weather is beautiful and you work and live downtown, the world becomes yours. I would be able to go anywhere, my two wheels and I. Plus, think of the legs I’d develop!
Like most fantasies, even the modest often don’t pan out as we’d hoped and, due to some unforeseen changes, I ended up living an unbike-able distance from my summer job. I traded in my bicycle for a less-whimsical Kobo e-reader and some subway tokens and my bike stayed in the garage.
I planned to take my bike out on the weekends and tour the neighbourhood – the bike trails near my house and the gorgeous Martin Goodman trail that lines the sunny lakeshore – but my small dog can’t run beside a bike and it just seemed more practical to take him on foot rather than use wheels. My poor bike lies sleeping in the garage.
So, here we are on Labour Day weekend and it’s the last day of summer. After a sobering summer lunch, in which we reflect on the shortage of days before us where we’ll be able to enjoy leisurely lunches in the sun and fresh air, I open the garage and pump fresh air – fresh life – into my tires.
I put on my helmet, and whiz down the hills – flying – to the lakeshore trail. I ignore the blast of jet engines and crowds as I weave through the sun-burnt, lawn-chair equipped families who are making the trek to witness the annual Air Show. The day is hot and the air heavy but my movement generates a man-made breeze that cools my face. The sun shines through the trees, the afternoon light brings summer colours into deep saturation; the greens are greener, the yellows yellower and the sky a ridiculous shade of bluest blue. My camera does it no justice.
I pass by cars, their drivers stuck in traffic with the windows up, as they suck air conditioned air into their lungs. They seem oblivious to the barrier between them and the world. “Life is happening out here, on my bike!” I want to tell them. I smell fried food, cigarette smoke and the sweat of millions but I don’t stick around for long. I fly by on my two-wheeled wings.
Next year I’ll buy a basket.