...but late in the afternoon, the sky lightens a bit. The sun deigns to glance through the cloudy ceiling at intervals - though each time he immediately withdraws to his warm room upstairs. The temp has climbed to over 40º and the wind chills are now into the tolerable 30s. What the heck, I think. I ask Tallulah if she's game for a ride. She is, and we decide to go for it.
I plan a route that will take us into the wind on the way out, giving us a tailwind on the way home. Just as well; today's wind is icy, insistent, unrelenting - around 20 miles per hour, gusting to 29. Every so often it pauses for breath so it can blow even harder. I think about turning around, but Tallulah reminds me of the many people with MS who can't ride at all. She tells me how lucky I am to be out cycling. We think of Calvin and Hobbes, and how Calvin's dad would probably say that a wind like this builds character. (My character seems rather to be shrinking - probably from the cold.)
We pass horses who look at us and snicker at our lack of protective fur coats:
...and others who, very sensibly, have turned their backs to the wind:
(We are heading straight into it.)
Our course eventually turns to the right, and for a blessed mile or two the headwind becomes a crosswind. We stop to catch our breath, and Tallulah gazes intently over the wintry countryside.
"What are you looking for, Tallulah?"
"Spring," she replies. "But I can't see it anywhere. Shouldn't there be leaves? And flowers? Why is there still so much ice on the ground?"
"Well, this is Wisconsin." (I can't think of anything else to say.) The wind blows even colder, and we begin to wonder if all this talk of spring is nothing but a hoax.
Just then, a blackbird sings from a nearby tree: "It's here, it's here, it's just sleeping late. Wait, wait, wait. It'll get better, it will." We heave a sigh of relief and get back on the bike.
Our road turns again, back into the wind. We're climbing now - only a gentle grade - but it feels like a mountain. Another turn, and we're out on the high prairie. The wind screams, trying to push us off the road. Just a couple more miles of this and our course will turn away from the wind. Just a couple more miles. We turn another corner....
And suddenly, we're riding. Not struggling, not freezing, not pushing against an invisible wall. Just riding. The world and our minds have become quieter places. We see fresh grass growing at the side of the road. A long valley opens out before us; cows walk calmly across a field. A hill looms up and we take it in our stride.
(Headwinds may build character, but there's nothing like a tailwind for lifting the spirits.)
We fly down the wintry road, stopping only once at my favourite willowy curve, where the winding stream, swollen by rain, is now a young lake:
"Look!" says Tallulah. "There's some more grass!"
"I see it too!" I reply. (Neither of us mentions the ice at the edge of the water.)
Tallulah closes her eyes and imagines what it will look like here when the weather warms up. "Just think," she says in a dreamy voice. "Sunshine ... blue skies ... won't it be wonderful?"
"Wonderful," I say. We get back in the saddle and head home.
|Dreaming of spring|
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P.S. Don't tell Tallulah, but here's our forecast for the coming week:
Spring is certainly taking its time this year.
How is your weather?
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