Evidence of work; an iPhone image at dusk of of a series of meandering stone steps rising through a steep part of our woodland garden. A day ago this was thick with mountain laurel, ferns and other plants. Even the dogs had trouble penetrating this area. While sitting in my little chair in the garden with a bowl of cereal I decided another pathway was necessary and abandoned plans to ride the Vespa.
A lesson in balancing riding with life.
Balance has never been an easy state to achieve as I can become obsessively focused on a task — particularly one as enjoyable as riding. A week ago I was on the road and enjoying the clear air and low humidity on a morning ride in central Pennsylvania. It would be a lie to suggest any sort of balance — I was just doing what I wanted to do — ride the Vespa scooter.
The riding weather a week ago was exceptional — not too hot and low humidity. As the week progressed the temperatures climbed along with the feeling that everything was moist. I confess a level of disappointment riding on sunny days. Everything seems too easy and relaxed with little natural drama to behold. It affects my desire to make photographs too. Everything looks like a postcard which to me translates as boring.
Still the desire to ride wins out and I headed south out of town to no where in particular.
This ’32 Ford Hot Rod looked dazzling in the parking lot at the Spruce Creek Bakery. My father always talked about building one of these but ended up always working on some other more conventionally useful and adult project. I’m not sure how his example informs my own behavior.
The owner told me this was a kit car and not build from a ’32 Ford. And I think it has a Chevy engine complete with some snazzy looking Offenhauser heads and dual four-barrel carbs on an Edelbrock high rise intake manifold. For a few moments these brands transported me back to hours spent on a creeper underneath cars dreaming of building fast cars. Those motor head days are behind me.
The chrome sparkled in the sunlight. I bought chocolate chip cookies at the bakery.
If I ever hope to photograph the scooter with a train I need to coordinate schedules better. These two tracks carry all the freight and passengers back and forth across Pennsylvania. As I write this passage I struggle to remember how I got to this place. I do remember a spark of excitement at the possibility of seeing a train. My wife’s cousin was an engineer for Penn Central then Conrail and finally Norfolk Southern until his retirement. He spent years running trains east to Philadelphia and west as far as Chicago.
I’ve still not ridden a train in the United States. That’s a sin.
The morning evaporated during a long, meandering ride through three counties and across the ridge and valley region and onto the Allegheny Plateau. As I stood along the road making this picture I felt an odd satisfaction knowing the Vespa had transported me to this point all the way from the horizon. By the time I would return home the scooter and I would ride another 120 miles.
This time of year the cornfields are beginning to soar across the wide agricultural valleys of Pennsylvania. I’m grateful to be able to so easily escape the noise and confusion of town so quickly and easily to find myself standing somewhere and look to the horizon and know there’s more of the same rural landscape.
Thinking about balance while riding usually means an eye on the clock to be home by a certain time. Kim wants to see me. The dogs demand my presence. It’s an old balance.
I was surprised to see the Big Vespa sculpture on a trailer on my way home. At one point the creator, William Snyder III, was going to set it up at my house for awhile as a temporary storage site until a better location surfaced. Will and I were in art school together. I photograph a Vespa. He builds monuments to them.
This one is 16 feet tall.
Arriving home, tired, sated with riding, hungry and smiling inside I’m uncertain if I’ve learned anything about balancing riding with life.
Perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe riding is life…