“Do you think this is going to hold up?” Steph asks, tugging on a plastic crate that she has bungee corded to the back of our marvelous green bicycle.
“Of course” I say, and give the crate a little tug myself. “There is no possible way this crate could fall off and spill all of our groceries onto the ground.”
“Hey Steph,” I ask, “how many grocery bags do you think will fit in this crate?”
The crate is now listing a little bit to the left, and one of the bungee cords is loose. “At least five bags.” Steph says, “and we might be able to pack more in on the sides.”
“Cool!” I say. “Lets ride to Cub Foods and buy lots of groceries. Lets see how many fragile glass bottles we can fit in the crate!”
“Let’s go!” Steph says. And we ride off. Steph on the marvelous green bike, pulling Darcy and Lewis, and me on the Surly. The crate bounces precariously on the back of the bicycle as we roll over the smallest of cracks. We are super happy.
It is springtime outside, and spring in Minneapolis is one of the seven wonders of the world. Two weeks ago the trees were skeletons, the lake was ice, and the wind was a ninja with a sword. Today the trees have exploded in green tissue paper and white flowers, sailboats are bobbing in the lake and the trails are filled with enthusiastic exercisers. Colorful shorts, and white, white legs.
Yesterday Steph went for a run and came back about thirty minutes later than I expected. “I was going to go the short way home” Steph explained, “but the air smelled so good I had to take a detour around the lake.” I understand completely.
It is hard to be negative when the air smells so good, and when the leaves are tissue paper, and the sailboats are just starting to bob on the water. There is still a whisper of cold under the bridges, beneath the trees and on the east side of Harriet, but not bad – just a little chill to remind you of how delightful everything is. Like winter saying “I’m sorry!”
The other night as I was running past the bog on the north side of Harriet I heard the frogs start to sing. the frogs! I thought they had all died off.
And, as Steph stands laughing over the carnage of our toppled crate, (three bags full. No broken glass. bruised bananas.) I reflect on how it is a good thing we are so preternaturally cheerful. This whole bike thing is an adventure, and we are innocent pilgrims in a strange, strange land. We need to figure so many things out – we do not even know how to do shopping really well.
A couple of hours later, Steph and I are riding home from a dinner on West River road. We cruise side by side towards the pink and red sky, the lights of Minneapolis just starting to twinkle on. Darcy and Lewis are sleeping in the bike trailer and Grant is quiet too. Not sleeping, just quiet. Looking for spider eyes maybe. In the darkness you can sometimes see them shining at you.
Steph and I are talking about dreams – my favorite subject – about what could happen if everything goes right. Steph brings her bike closer, and whispers conspiratorially. “Next winter,” she says, “will be a doosy. The past two winters – sissies. We are due for a big one.”
Steph comes another inch or two closer. Steph’s bike hums quietly. Mine clicks and whirs. Side by side. A couple of years ago when we were riding bikes across the USA we would sometimes ride so close together that our panniers would bounce off each other.
I can hear Darcy breathing in the trailer behind me.
Steph rides another inch closer.
Sure do love Steph.
Steph is probably right about the winter – she’s usually right about most things. But we are a team, so we are going to be all right. Better than all right – we are gonna be great.