Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bike Lane Phantoms: The 2014 EOY Eidolons

Frost-cloth phantoms lurking near the bike lane

Exactly a year ago I wrote a post with "eidolons" in the title, so I chose to ride with the phantom theme when I came upon the frost cloth creatures lurking and gesturing near my route on the last-but-one day of 2014. The eery shadows, the suddenly cold bright morning (near freezing!), the quiet commute of a no one else but me is working kind if ride.

This end of year post feels more ghostly than last years which was all bright-eyed about the epic yet-to-come. Possibly it was last year's warm weather warming my sentiments. Possibly it was the comment I made to my wife about sometimes feeling like we keep on going forward on pure inertia, and sonofagun if the home book hoard didn't cough up an Ernest Sabato book which led me to stumble on this quote the very next day: "Beaten up by disbelief, I kept going because of inertia, which my soul rejected." Ghosts of Christmii Past, I welcome you.

Then these three fellows appeared next to the bike lane on the coldest day so far of the end of the year. The first one just hulking. The other two pointing away from going forward, vaguely toward the mountains on the left, or possibly to turn back completely, but definitely adamant about warning me off the path ahead. Inertia, dude, it's a soul destroyer, break off. Two of them.

And the hulking one, what's he hiding? He's pretty stout. Big boned. Low center of gravity. Weighty, if you know what I mean. He appears to be carrying a heavy load of something. His backlit sheet is light, white, but underneath looks pretty ominous. 

Momentarily, I thought they might be hitchhiking. But I don't think I'm headed their way, don't think I have room for them, don't think my machine is suited to their transport needs, don't think they have anything I want. I tried seeing them in a different light, though. Maybe that would change my mind, refocus the theme, recast the whole inertia interior monologue.

Bike lane frost cloth eidolons in a different light

Up close and in color I realize there were more of them, though. Not just along the curb, near the bike lane, but an entire multi-dimensional gathering of them in the yard, up and across the central trellis, along the ground, up against the house, trailing around to the backyard and beyond, far beyond, for all I know. A multitude of frost cloth eidolons, all bending forward, anxious to see what would unfold. Staring. Gawking. Bored and driven.

And still the two ahead, pointing resolutely towards the deviation. Voting with their ominous veiled branches. And Hulk Dude up close, in color, was not diminished by any means. The wind rustled, and he made as if to step towards me. But I stood my ground, shivering next to my commuter bicycle. I stared that hulking ghost down. 

Listen here, Short-Groot, I said, I wish you and your pointy friends up there all the best with your frost challenges, but I'm not rooted like you are. Between this frost cloth indignation and the broiling summer Phoenix sun, you're not in the best of spots, I get it. You ghosts, I acknowledge you. Here, I tip my ventilated foam helmet to you. I appreciate the advice. I really do. But roots aren't going to work for me like they do for you. I have work yet to do. Rides yet to ride. Your brothers there, pointing to deviate from my course? When I'm ready, when it's right, I will, but not on this cold morning. Not at the whims of you frost cloth eidolons. No. This is clearly a stay-the-course, be strong, type scenario.

At this point in my life, the real ghosts and monsters, the ones to watch out for, are not the ones lurking in plain sight next to or even in the road. Nor the ones gathered behind them leaning forward to observe what happens next and just hoping the frost cloths serve their purpose. The ones to watch out for are the ones you can't watch for. Which requires some kind of wisdom, or skill, or presence of mind, to deal with successfully when they do rise up. So, 2015: calm, mindful preparation, focused on wisdom (which is what?) and patience, more the ready-for-what-may-come scenario than the epic-is-still-ahead view.

I'm not saying the bike lane frost cloth eidolons are wrong in their pointing. Just not today. Not today.



  1. They have cloths in North Texas as well.

    1. Now that I have a non-contact infrared thermometer I need to do some field tests to see if there's an actual temperature difference between plants covered with a thin cloth and bare leaves. I will report back.


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