Tag Archives: Blue

Bicycles in Beijing, Part I

Beijing, China. April 2013.

This is a season of bicycles. Partly it’s about the weather, and partly it’s about vacations and people having time to ride. A friend has been posting photographs from his mountain biking trip in Switzerland, with trails only a few inches wide in valleys of mountains that go on and on. The Tour de France is riding through the mountains, and apparently, for the first time, there will be a Tour de Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Yesterday families of cyclists rolled along the riverside. The five-year olds push pedal-less bikes to learn the balance of two-wheeled bliss.

Much has been made of the bicycles in Beijing. Nine million of them, the songs say. Bicycles that do not wait for seasons or free time or sunny weather. Bicycles of utility. Bicycles of necessity. Bicycles of shortening the shortest distance between points A and B.

I wonder if there’s a song about the number of cars in Beijing. I expect they are equally numerous, though not nearly as romantic.

In Between Years

Vernon, Ontario, Canada. June 2013.

Edie said today, that we are already half-way through the year. I thought about that and it feels to me like the year hasn’t even started yet, but also, like the year just ended. And so it goes for those of us whose lives tick on an academic calendar, those of us for whom New Year’s Eve is a midpoint of sorts and these humid days of summer are an interstice improbably carved out in between years.

That’s how it was when we were kids, wasn’t it? In between the years was a dream-time, a fiery affair with lost love, the burn of things to overexposure where heightened sensitivities sang themselves to numb and the silences broke through, a drowsy glance between friends on waking from an unplanned nap after a sun-drenched day at the beach, the moment around a campfire when it was perfect that we had all run out of things to say and there was nothing left but to listen to licks of yellow flame crack open the vascular secrets of fallen trees.

Summer wasn’t just a season, it was a land unto itself, an island of time as viscerally immediate and easily lost as song lyrics screamed into the rush, out the rolled-down windows of racing cars on gravel roads under cotton-clouded skies too perfect to be noticed except in retrospect, and suspect then, subject to the machinations of nostalgia and memory.

(Happy Canada Day, my friends.)