With the kids away at summer camp for two weeks, I've been riding my bike to work. It's a pleasant way to start the morning: the cool morning air against my face, a slight exertion to get my body moving without wearing myself out (thankfully it's mostly downhill), and an opportunity to enjoy the quiet calm of the morning without the stress of traffic. Sometimes I listen to music on my iPod shuffle, and sometimes I just listen to the wind whistling in my ears. The ride home at the end of the day is a little more taxing, since it's mostly uphill, and the heat of the summer sun presses down upon me.
Most of my bike rides are uneventful. Today's ride was different.
Usually I ride along the bike trail next to the Olentangy River. It's a pleasantly shaded, semi-wooded trail with smooth pavement and not too much traffic. One long stretch of it passes through the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, through which two paths are available: the direct route that skirts around the outside of the wetland, and the more winding path through the heart of the wetland. Today, for no particular reason, I decided to take the winding path through the wetland -- something I've never done before. Almost as soon as I entered, I noticed that my bike felt different under me. Looking down, I saw that my rear tire was nearly flat! I was almost exactly half-way to work, and nowhere near a main road on which I could have Carina meet me. The only choice was to walk on to work
Although I was frustrated by the flat tire, I was almost immediately glad that I had a flat: walking alone along the path, with the tall grass on each side of me, I felt a sense of deep calm. It was quiet, the morning sun made intricate shadows on the ground, and I was surrounded by life. There were a variety of birds flitting about, and immediately in front of me, in the middle of the path, was a small, young rabbit. It hopped away from me as I walked along the path, not hurried or scared, but as if it, like me, was simply on its way to work. I couldn't help but smile. I slowed my pace, and strolled along the path, listening to the click-click-click of my bike spokes mix with the rustling grass.
As I exited the wetland, and merged back onto the main bike path, the sights and sounds of the city returned. Several pedestrians, out for their morning constitutional, power-walked toward me. A biker clad in colorful spandex sped past me. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. Glancing over, I saw the little bunny rabbit next to a sapling, calmly watching me. I smiled again, and walked on to work.