Monday, July 5, 2010

July 1

Oh, and I wish this
To turn back the clock and do over again
I was just wondering if you'd come along
Hold up my head when my head won't hold on
I'll do the same if the same is what you want
But if not I'll go
I will go alone
Oh, I need so
To stay in your arms see you smile hold you close
Oh, And it weighs on me
As heavy as stone and a bone chilling cold
I was just wondering if you'd come along
Just tell me you will

I’m exhausted.

I could blame my Thursday workout when I ran six miles, did P90X, and biked for roughly 20 miles. That night, I walked about 3 miles as well. I can’t blame Friday since I rested. Maybe today is at fault: I ran 9 miles, swam a 1.5-mile pyramid, and did yoga and ab work.


Working out didn’t tire me.

Dave Matthews did. Concert number 13, I believe.

We headed to the show after dinner at the Capital Grille, a tony, overpriced steakhouse where middle-age hook-ups of people with 18-karat Big Ben watches and plunging cleavage of overly tanned and sagging breasts seemed de rigueur.

It was a clear dichotomy of where we were to where we were headed, a clash of society, indeed.

We walked through Old City, which is much more my style, to catch the ferry with several hundred other DMBandos for another night of sensual improvisational jamming.

I don’t think we’ve seen DMB since Rhode Island when we drove back through a blizzard only to learn Grace was gravely ill and needed hospitalization. That experience kind of soured me from following tours for a while.

But it was Mark’s 45th birthday, and we have not seen Dave since saxophonist Leroi Moore died in 2008. It was also one of the few times that I’ve seen Tim Reynolds perform. Plus, the band will not tour next year, the first time in their 20-year history. So it was time to return. Lucky for me, the setlist included some of my favorites: #41, Warehouse, The Stone, and Pig, which truly speaks the tenets of my life, my beliefs on seizing opportunities.

I danced most of the night beside college kids, middle-agers, adolescents, folks in their 60s, weeders who toked for two hours, even a balding elderly woman with a cane. I saw medics take out a young girl who got violently ill in the bathroom. I heard the couple next to me argue, with him storming out and leaving her behind. And I curiously watched a former colleague who stood two rows in front of me, clearly uncomfortable in this arena, rigid as a robot as his date shared a blunt with a stranger who I called “The Monkey”.

It was a hodge-podge of society, all collectively singing jazzy, bluesy, soulful songs of life and love. We actually cut out during the encore because my foot was angry and my eyes were tired.

But, two days later, the one body part that remained exhausted were my ears. It’s funny how, during my college days, I worked as entertainment editor of the college paper. And I went to every major concert to hit Philly, never worrying about my hearing.

Now, I go to one, and I feel as if nails are piercing through my head.

This reminds me of how quickly our lives change, how we can try to hold on to the past but our youth quickly slips away no matter what actions we take, no matter what reactions we feel.

We can waste our time simply wanting to turn back the clock. Or we can invest our time just trying to slow it down. I vote for the latter.

On the road

Today I experienced one of the most wonderful bike rides that reminded me of how remarkable life can be when witnessed from two wheels.

In the past, I’ve taken in some vivid scenery while pushing 40 to 50-plus miles through the Green Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire where Brenda and I traversed the Connecticut River, drank iced coffee at Dartmouth, stopped in tiny villages. Lush. Fresh. Pure, indeed--just as life should be.

And I’ve ridden bikes along the coasts on both sides of the country, eyeing the Atlantic and Pacific slowly skate by on many occasions, watching the sun rise, the sun set.

But today, today presented me with a gift from my own backyard when I decided to join a group ride through the virgin farmlands of western Berks County toward Kutztown. It’s an area that I know so very well since it’s just outside of Bear Swamp. However, I’m always weary of biking too far, especially since I was forced off the road in the country last year and ended up spraining my wrist and elbow.

This time, I left comfort at home. In order to ramp up for my race, I need to log more heavy mileage rides, so I went out with the “B” group.

At the start of the ride, we dealt with some traffic as out-of-towners headed toward the Folk Festival to gawk at the Old World traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch, replete with German-rooted foods, ceremonies, clothes. My roots. (My mother, after all, spent some time growing up on a green bean farm.) And so the culturally deprived from Jersey maniacally barrel down the two-lane roads in a rush to see the simple folk and pay through the nose for handmade quilts that you could buy much cheaper at auction.

But despite the traffic, we soon dodged the madness and turned down less-trodden paths, where we quickly pedaled past the fields of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. The roads turned and twisted by farmhouses, a few trailers, a pet cemetery, laundry on the line, silos, summer kitchens, a patchwork of peace.

A steady breeze made the punishing sun and 91-degree blanket quite manageable. Instead, my greatest worry became dodging the endless horse pies that dotted the macadam. The manure, however, must’ve been left over from Sunday’s buggy rides to service for the Mennonites were nowhere to be found on the road since today, July 5, was a Monday. Farmers don’t honor the holiday observance. Monday is Monday. And so they work.

We headed through small boroughs and tiny villages that dot the edges of the massive land parcels that weave together this agricultural blanket of husbandry. Cars would eventually pass us along the roads; however, it seemed more common to see fellow cyclists who appreciate the untainted area and the horse pies just as much.

Still, the highlight of the ride came on the return leg, not far from Dryville. About 12 feet from the road, two mammoth horses, clearly not trimmed for dressage, slowly pulled a large plow—guided by a middle-aged Mennonite farmer with a ZZ-Top beard—across a parcel just as we passed. The rider in front of me nodded toward the farmer, who replied in kind. With his barn and fertile acreage in the backdrop, the scene was simplistically beautiful. Untarnished.

I realized, perhaps, how fortunate I am to live in area that still has not completely given in to the pressures of money, of commercialism, of a culture that thrives on machines. Granted, I am guilty of falling prey to the whims of emerging technology. But inside, I still feel as though I maintain some semblance of a naturalist.

And I don’t need to go very far to remind myself of that.