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Carless-Day Three -Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears

We rode bikes instead of hoofing it to the farmers’ market yesterday morning. I asked and Amy said she was game, so I pulled out from the back corner of the garage her 1976 Schwinn Varsity twelve speed, pumped up the tires, and brushed away the accumulated cobwebs and cat fur.

Amy doesn’t ride her bike much. And, as we started out, she struggled to shift gears. My bike has only one gear, so I was a half block ahead of her before I noticed she was fretting. She closed the gap, though, and we continued up through the complicated intersection, where she pulled off onto the sidewalk, clearly frustrated. Gears still not meshing properly. She gamely remounted and we coasted into downtown, to the small bike shop there.

We stopped and took refuge out of the swelter while the mechanic checked out the bike. He adjusted a couple of things and sprayed down the too-complicated-to-even-touch derailleur, declaring the well-preserved relic in perfect working order.

We bought sparingly at the farmers’ market, knowing I’d have to hold the booty in one hand while riding the bike on the return trip. I really should invest in a cargo rack or saddle bags, maybe even a helmet, if we’re going to be serious about this carlessness business.

Early afternoon, Amy was baking a cherry pie but needed corn starch. I volunteered to wade out into the full swelter and ride my bike to the co-op. “You should call ahead and see if they have any,” Amy suggested. One can never be certain what the co-op will deign to stock. Do not go looking for gelatin there, for some reason. I’d already struck out on that one. But I almost remembered seeing some corn starch there, so I left without calling ahead.

Of course if I’d hopped into a car, the very idea of calling ahead would never have come up. Perhaps carlessness encourages a particular mindfulness, discouraging a priori carelessness. Right now, for instance, I’m aware that I drank the last of the milk at lunch and before breakfast, I’m gonna have to make the trek to the seven eleven to buy some more. That’s a two mile round trip and it ‘feels like’ ninty eight degrees out there, with humidity pushing sixty percent.

I found as I pumped up the short hill to the co-op that the breeze moderated the otherwise stifling heat. I was enjoying the brief zoom. I found corn starch—100% pure no less—and coasted back home in minutes. Very little sweat.

We are shifting gears. The gears we’re shifting need a little psychic WD40 sprayed on them, and they are sticky not only with disuse, but perhaps more due to even less imagining. While the walk/bike options were always there, they were easily disregarded when a hot red Honda blocked egress in the middle of the driveway. Without that seductive little coupe, choices are more limited and also more obvious.

We’re thinking ahead and perhaps acting a little more behind now. If this isn’t mindful in the moment, I guess I don’t know what it is.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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