Dedicated readers of this column will remember that, when last mentioned, my bicycle had been languishing in a dark corner of the barn for more than a decade. Last fall I wrote about the cycling paths along Scituate’s Driftway, and how maybe someday I’d resurrect my decaying mountain bike and check them out. But to be honest, that just didn’t seem likely.
Life can have all sorts of unexpected twists and turns, can’t it? I am happy to report that my bike has indeed been rescued from an early grave. This spring, I asked a friend to fix it for me, and this summer I’ve been back on the road again, after a ten-year absence. Boy, does it feel good.
You know when you have a pebble in your shoe? Let’s say you’ve just set out on a run, or a walk, or a bike ride, and you can feel that tiny little stone in there. You think, “I’m moving at a good clip here. I don’t want to stop and ruin my momentum. The pebble’s a little bit uncomfortable, but I can live with it.” And then you let that tiny stone grind into your foot and distract you from an otherwise pleasant experience . . .
The alternative? You can just stop. Take off your shoe. Remove the pebble. Sure, you’ll wreck your momentum. But you’ll get it back. And you’ll be much happier.
Those unexpected twists and turns I mentioned? My own life has been full of them this year. To help myself cope, in the spring, I started jogging. Yeah, I’m a yoga teacher, and my daily practice of stretching and breathing really does help to keep my stress level down, but these particular twists and turns needed stronger medicine. And for me it was running. Even though my father is one of those crazy people who competes in 100-mile endurance races, I’ve never had the strength – or will – to run even a mile. Until now. This spring, I found the energy to do that – and more.
But when it’s ninety degrees and humid outside, does it really make sense to go for a jog? Not so much. (Not for me at least – I’m not training for a triathlon . . . yet). So on the hotter days, when I need a change of pace or when I can’t make it to the air-conditioned gym, I’ve been riding my bike instead.
We are so lucky to live where we live. It’s beautiful here, especially in summer. So far my cycling routes have included only parts of Marshfield and Duxbury – I haven’t ventured any farther, but I am slowly building up the distance from home that I am willing to travel on two wheels (Norwell is looking good, as are Pembroke and Scituate). But even in my currently-limited geography, I have been seeing some gorgeous scenery. One day I made my way down 3A and over to Powder Point, crossing the bridge and heading back through Green Harbor on my way home. It was high tide, and the late afternoon sun reflected on the waters of Duxbury Bay, casting a golden light over everything.
Another route took me along the back roads that connect Temple Street in Duxbury and Old Ocean Street in Marshfield, crossing the unassuming upper portion of the South River at least twice. At seven on a Sunday morning, there were only a handful of cars on the road. In fact, I encountered more bikes than cars. The world seems so serene in the hours just after sunrise – the only sounds are the chattering birds, the wind in the trees, the clicking chain and the hum of narrow rubber tires against pavement.
One of the many treasures of the South Shore is the network of back roads and scenic vistas that make for an ideal morning bike route. At this time of year, everything is green – the trees, the shrubs, the marsh grass — so lush and full of life! It feels good to be out in it, taking in great lungfuls of fresh air, powering myself forward. There is a very useful website, MapMyRide.com, which not only suggests routes, but also calculates your speed and distance on them.
When I began writing this column 15+ years ago, friends jokingly called me The Nature Girl. This was funny because I knew so little about nature itself. Sure, I loved to experience the outdoors – walking in the woods, kayaking the rivers, getting to know as many of our local conservation lands as possible — but I had no great knowledge of flowers or trees, no ability to identify a bird or a bug without first consulting a field guide, and even then I had difficulty.
This hasn’t changed much. My enthusiasm for the outdoors does not include taxonomy. In nature, for me, it’s more about experiencing The Big Picture, rather than developing expert knowledge of minutia. I’m inspired by How It Feels, not so much by What It Is.
This past decade – so busy with work and family obligations – has pulled me away from my Nature Girl persona. It seems that I became separated, in some ways, from my true self. Separated, but not completely disconnected. Always, in the back on my mind, there was that voice, reminding me, not always gently, “Your kayak is filling with cobwebs; your bike is getting rusty; your hiking boots are starting to rot.”
I finally took the pebble out of my shoe. I’m getting to know The Nature Girl all over again. She’s older now, and wiser too.
by Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, Correspondent
Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com.