My hands are blistered, my back aches, my legs and feet were screaming for days, and at some point I think I mildly strained my forearms, but I am blissfully happy. We are now proud home owners and all of our time during the last couple of weeks has been devoted to setting up for housekeep. Like so many of the places I photograph and am fascinated with, it’s a historic home, a cabin from the early part of the last century which was once closer to Oklahoma City proper. As the city expanded into the country and farmland was eaten up, the cabin was moved by a loving family to the acreage it now sits on. Even our shop building out back was once a one room schoolhouse in the neighboring town also moved rather than let it be torn down as new schools were built. With my love of historic preservation, it couldn’t have been a more perfect find after months of searching, and paired with a parcel of beautifully wooded acreage reminiscent of home, I am absolutely in love.
All hours filled back to back with last minute packing, moving an entire household plus six vehicles and two people’s garage gear and a hobby farm’s worth of gardening materials, staining hardwood floors, painting every wall, pulling fixtures, every day from sunrise to the early a.m. hours we have worked without stop. Just before I sat to pen this, I was putting the final coat of polyurethane on the gorgeous hardwoods we found hidden under the carpet in our bedroom. At this point, my mind hardly slows. Even when I sleep it’s still going full tilt, planning, fussing, prattling on and on… Thus, while having record breaking January highs to work with has been wonderful, every bike that went by as we worked rose my ire. I knew a ride was exactly what I needed and I tried, time and again, to work in an hour or two here or there to disappear for a bit, to relax, but with all the moving and arranging and a limited time frame to do so in, it just didn’t work out unless you count the ride from our old place to our home as we moved each of the bikes. I don’t.
This Saturday was another morning of early rise, but rather than getting the coffee on and getting to work, I put my foot down. That day the first order of business in the predawn darkness was to find the boxes our gear is packed in and get on the road at sunrise. I had reached the point where I wasn’t functioning correctly and becoming increasingly frustrated with myself, the clear sign it’s time to stop, to take a pause however briefly. Never underestimate the value of wind therapy. As soon as I sat on the bike I felt better and two quick turns out onto the highway, all is right with the world again. The weather was gorgeous, the mid to upper fifties temps I love riding in, with a bright blazing morning sun in a cloudless blanket of blue sky and the country around us absolutely lazy in the stillness. Cutting through pasture land en route to the neighboring town, the wind was light and cool but felt no less than perfect to my tired mind.
I had planned to write about a diner we’d heard so much about but it was only slightly better than average. The coffee was damn fine though, or maybe just hot enough for cool early morning, and the staff was wonderful. Gregarious and humorous, carrying on with each other like hens, all busyness and fuss and country drawls and cackling.
“You can judge any diner by two things: their omelets and their gravy.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. Maybe I’ll start another blog, the omelet and gravy diner tour of the states.”
While we waited for our food, a couple walked in with their grandchildren, twin Native American girls one in her blue pearlsnap shirt and matching cowgirl boots, the other in the pink version of the same, and both the very definition of adorable, laughing and talking to everyone, maybe four years old, taking everything in and missing nothing, especially the hawkeyed one in pink. To one side of us they yammered on excitedly about everything they saw and to the other a pair of elderly women reminisced and there we sat in silence, slowly sipping coffee and taking in the perfect scene.
Back out on the road and in the sun, we made a great crooked loop of the handful of highways and main roads that surround our new home and I am pleased to find much to photograph not far from the homestead. But more so, I was pleased with the wind and sun, other bikes passing at steady intervals, various tribal signs streaking by, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Pottawattamie, hills rolling and the road with them, pastures divided by crop and windbreaks, black faced sheep and bald faced cattle, horses of hardy mustang and graceful thoroughbred lineages, deep cocoa brown earth freshly turned over for the coming planting, intermittent orchards, fruit and nut. Small towns, clusters of Victorian era western store fronts and deco era garages, tiny local shop fronts and friendly folks waving as we passed. Behind a tractor, we crawled over the Canadian River bridge, I admiring the details of the tractor driver’s wrinkled ruddy neck and snow white hair peering from his cap, while Josh rode onto the shoulder to better glimpse the sandy riverbed and wave at a man fishing below. This kind of slow down, this kind of comfort is what we have missed, and my mind has relaxed again.