Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Awake! Arise! Ride Out O Cyclist!

Contemplations of Sky, Oleander, Cloud and Mountain Reflections

During my years of former car commuting, I frequently expended tens of minutes of precious life each day moving at the speed of a crawling toddler through the former environs of the Hohokam native Americans who spent their days in and around the Salt River digging canals, and tending their small plots of beans, corn, and squash. The freeway which tears through their archeological heritage is named after them, and is decorated with large-scale ground art meant to evoke hints of this heritage. East of Sky Harbor Airport from satellite view is a good way to see this.

In my car, I frequently turned the music up very loud, I think in an attempt to penetrate and excite senses otherwise dulled by the repetitive, stressful, isolating drive I did twice every day. One day blended into the next, one traffic jam bled into another in my mind, until the string of days tightened into one continuous blur of loud music and the numbing, angering view of taillights and bumpers in front of me as far as the eye could see.

Although I was certainly moving through a historically interesting and evocative zone, important for understanding the context of this area, all I remember is cement, vehicular steel, heat, and frustration. I wanted to be anywhere else but there, twice a day, for an hour every day.

Sunlight catching a load of trusses far ahead in the fog

In contrast, I can't wait for my bicycle commute. The chance to slow down, to actually smell flowers and listen to birds each morning, to pause just a moment to contemplate reflections of sky and mountains in the puddles, to meditate on my way to/from work about place, history, neighborhoods, and the local environment, is priceless to me. To breathe the air, to pick citrus in season right next to the street, to feel my muscles propelling me to work, changed my life. 

I broke out of my car. In an infinite yet transient moment, when I pause to look into a puddle as far as I can, I see the reflections of the blue sky, white clouds, and brown mountains written as if in a chasm opening in the ground before me, and in one breath I feel whole and happy. Try that in a traffic jam some time.


  1. You've captured so much of what I get from my commute. My favorite part is the Osage Orange branches that create a canopy over one part of the trail. I never get tired of looking at the bark, the twisty nature of the branches. I miss all of that right now--too much snow and ice to feel comfortable riding. I see a fat tire bike in my future.

  2. It is all simply a state of mind...


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