Today a gift of 66°F. One of the last moments of waning winter with the effects of a cold, snowy winter melting quickly away. This Friday afternoon: sunshine, clear skies, a balmy breeze.
So I hopped on my bike and shed work’s stressful load. I pedaled on empty roads, past patches of white tucked in the woods still reflecting the furious nor’easters of December and January. Along the estuary I saw the tide low and the sea stretching far, the salt marsh hay soaking in the surprisingly strong sun, resetting roots and working purposefully towards its gold-to-green renewal.
My mind abandons project worries and mounting tasks, tedious 10-12 hour days at my desk, my mind and body tired after months of burdensome work, little exercise and the normal winter sluggishness. Yet this spring air enlivens my lungs, my eyes and heart race to keep up with the stimuli around me, my legs straining to keep up with my unleashed spirit. No poems to read this time; my senses consume the lyrics of this rare warm afternoon and its goings-on.
Wafts of pine emerging from the brown woods, vacant roads warn and grit-strewn from the harsh cold of months past, lawns matted heavily not yet finding strength to lift its sinews upwards, the beach! oh the marvelous beach! always a sight! waves and salt air and sand and shoeless people, pant legs rolled up, arm in arm, sitting and staring, meandering dogs sniffing with eager tongues and wagging tails, puddles of melting show trickling onto the road, spritzing my bare legs as I speed over, four New York guys in a rental car with NH plates stopping to snap photos of Nubble Light, closing their eyes and faces stretching skyward, boarded up homes, silent and still but full of promise of the joys of the seasons to come, the hibernating dairy bar crowned by its unlit neon cone, “see you in the spring!” in shop windows, sounds of sawing and hammering emerging from the Liquid Dreams surf shop — first sign of life along this commercial stretch — its wave devotees getting a jump on the season, an old dog glad to have survived another winter trotting ardently away from its beckoning owner, a young couple in a white-armed embrace, their toes in the sand and bare arms absorbing each others warmth in the warmth of the sun, their shorts and polo shirts will bearing definitive creases after months folded at the bottom of a drawer, a small Latino dropping a quarter in the binoculars to get a haze-free look at distant and solitary Boon Island Light keeping watch offshore with granite strength and towering attention, diminished in stature by the miles between it and us, shirtless teenagers playing basketball their bodies pale but buffed by the sinking sun, the deserted main drag in York Beach, its store-front windows absent of the tacky t-shirts yet to debut, the taffy machine at Goldenrod Kisses covered in canvas, a lone car parked on the block that in sticky months is burdened with steady traffic, somewhere I smell fresh brick-oven pizza but I can’t place the source — not Paras and not Woody’s (both boarded still) but somewhere the locals know, the Ferris wheel at the Wild Kingdom sleeping and still, happy hour music at the Guac-n-Roll cantina welcoming the Friday happy hour (small) pre-season crowd, a young punk with a prominent mohawk holding hands with his gal and me wondering how his doo stays so erect in the gusting wind, an ambulance racing by with lights a-glow and siren a-screaming — what misfortune has befallen this fine afternoon?, bothersome bumps and cracks and potholes causing me to weave and hop along my path, construction nearing completion on the jumping bridge such a happy development since it means I can ride unobstructed this summer through the tidal marsh as Route 103 nears its end at one of my favorite stretches, my right knee straining and sore after 20 miles and facing two more over the three hills along Brave Boat Harbor Road as I approach home.
This one hour. This improbably warm day. This fleeting aberration before the freezing temps set in overnight and the cold air reigns again. This welcome respite from my hectic routine.
I am tired now — my arms tingling and my legs spent and my mind replenished by the pleasure, circumstance and accident of this early spring afternoon.