Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Beauty and The Beast

        Lisa brought me to a play in Chico on an early Sunday in May, "The Beauty and The Beast". She bought tickets for several of her friends, (she's like that) and we all met in the parking lot of the Chico Performing Arts Center. Before that rendezvous, she invested a few hours tending to her garden, while I hopped on my bicycle and climbed one of my favorite hills toward Lassen Volcanic National Park.
         She said, "Remember, you have to be back in an hour and a half, don't get carried away with exploring." I mounted my dual-sport/ townbike, called the Fast City...because this hill has some nasty bumps and bubbles in the pavement, especially on the descent, and the Fast City has a suspension fork. I climbed for 45 minutes, from 4,500ft. to 6,200ft. to a campground on the south edge of Lassen Park.
         The loop through the campground was blocked by snow so, I executed a tight u-turn on the small dirt lane... for some reason the chain broke and stretched out in a straight line in the dirt below....damn!  I carry tools on my bike to fix a flat or true a wheel but, I don't carry a chain tool...which is what I needed to make this repair and get home on time. Now, I'm going to be in  trouble...if I don't get back in time I'll be considered The Beast who messed up the rendezvous.
         I'll have to coast and run all the way back to Chester. I am used to pedaling on this downhill run, and even though I've ridden this particular hill hundreds of times, I don't recall if I can coast the entire way back. I had cleated shoes on so, I was really hoping to stay in the saddle all the way back to Chester. It turned out that there was only one hundred yard run-up and a few short ones. I made it home on time and parked my bicycle at the bottom of the stairs. Lisa was waiting on the deck and said, somewhat casually, "How did it go?" I told her about my chainless return and just then, the front tire let go of all it's air...psheeeeuuu!...perfect place for a flat.

SUMMER...I get it, three months of perfection.

        Warmth...steady, reliable ...a little sweaty, days with less clothes and a lot of cold water; to drink, to dip in, to open your eyes in...ohhh, heaven. I think it's the thing about living in a region of four seasons. Each new season titillates different senses. People are suckers for warm climates...after a handful of season-less years, you begin to forget how sweet it is to enter a new season. You won't know what I am talking about if you haven't spent time, extended periods of time, in both zones.
         I grew up in Michigan and then invested fifteen years in the largely season-less lowlands of California. Now I've accomplished 30 years in the northern mountains of California...real mountains, the mountains that give you a very definite taste of each season. Let me just say...Summer is much appreciated. I live in a quiet corner of this 1,000 mile long state...I might not be so in love with Summer if I had to live in one of the urban pockets that infect much of California. The noise, the lack of respect for each other's territory (and mind space) would probably drive me Lake Tahoe. Chester/ Lake Almanor...ain't no Tahoe.
        So far, snow-birding has not been for us...we stay in snow country to fight the good shovel, to keep an eye on the ice dams and to make sure the windstorms don't cause havoc with our cherished structures. Our pipes stay thawed and our driveway remains driveable. We cheat just a dropping to lower elevations for bicycling, camping, shopping and visiting grandmother.
         It is somewhat odd to add 50 degrees to your daily high temperature by migrating to another corner of your same state for a week or so. No other state in the union features this possibility. Snowbirding for a week or so is not the same as snowbirding to avoid an entire season. Well, maybe Arizona, if you live in Flagstaff.