Today, I needed a mellow bike ride to escape reality. It worked, until I arrived home, and remembered what I'd been escaping. Some days, the feeling of freedom from a bike ride lasts for hours, and on other days, it abruptly vanishes as I walk through the door.
I'm feeling sad about S, as we watch the cancer take its toll and know that the end is drawing near. In the midst of the sadness, I've felt like S has been reaching out to showing me his love. S is an independent dog, who likes being petted and hugged, but only briefly. He doesn't seek lavish attention and isn't ecstatic when he gets it. The past two evenings, just before I climbed into bed, S followed my face with his deep brown eyes, and I felt certain that his eyes radiated love. Both times, I snuggled with him, and he seemed more content with my closeness than ever before. That's a gift.
I felt particularly lucky to have K with me during our mountain bike ride today. No matter what, she and I get only a limited number of days on this Earth, and I don't plan to squander them. My legs felt tired, lacking any spark, so I decided to simply enjoy the spring day at a slow pace. We rolled through a wet pine forest amidst the sweet scent of sun-warmed pine duff. At the transition to an aspen forest, the piercingly bright combination of white tree trunks, dark green leaves, and deep blue sky became our entire world.
I've vowed to climb to one new lookout spot or explore an uncharted section of forest frequently this summer. It's too easy to fall into ruts, riding the same trails each day and never bothering to explore the new territory that's literally next to the well-traveled path. Today, I propped my bike against a tree and climbed a big pile of boulders that blocked our view to the west.
K leaped from rock-to-rock and stopped for a stretch on her way to the view point.
At the top, a small fortress had naturally emerged with boulders surrounding a small sandy pit. It looked like an ideal spot for an animal to relax during the day, completely invisible, but I didn't see any obvious wildlife signs. It also looked like a great spot for a small tent, assuming no lightning storms arrived. The view was stupendous.At the next intersection, we detected a vague trace of a trail and followed it. It led to a logged area, where aspens and shrubs are flourishing, and the plowed down pine forest has created views.
We kept taking right turns, hoping to make a new loop from this almost non-existent, and at times undetectable, path. Alas, my lack of an internal compass left my head spinning when we entered a dense pine forest. I turned around, following my tracks out and vowed to bring my GPS next time. I think a nice, previously undiscovered by me, loop might exist in this forest.
We took an aspen-dominated trail toward home, and soaked up the beauty.After I dropped off K, I continued my leisurely pace, enjoying the sun and warmth. After riding a ridge, with a sea of white, yellow, and purple flowers lining the trail, I dropped down into a dense pine forest, and to my surprise, I saw another mountain biker. He's someone I've wanted to meet for years, as I've heard other local mountain bikers mention him. What a nice guy - we talked about neighborhood trail issues, the unique mountain mindset, and laughed a lot.
After emerging from a long conversation in the pine forest, I discovered that I had a race on my hands. Towering cumulus clouds had accumulated on the western horizon, foretelling lightning storms. Racing thunder storms provides me with 'speed workouts' every summer.Today, I won the race, but only by seconds, arriving home just as the first thunder rumbled. My trifecta of wonderful labradors awaited me, giving me the hero's welcome that I always enjoy. They reminded me of how lucky I am to be loved by each of them but also reminded me of the well of sadness deep in my heart.