Though not yet the equinox, spring is here and winter is a happily faded memory. Some nights are colder than others but rarely now do they drop below the forties and most days are warmed to the fifties before noon. Our first official up with the dawn and back after dark ride has come and gone and so has our riding season begun, that season that finds us gone all day farther and farther as the days grow warmer and longer. The sunset chases us home, all fire and smoke imitation horizon, and by night the stars shimmer around us on dark rural highways. The air is cool but comfortable, dropping to a chill only at the passing of ponds and creeks, but warming rapidly again on the other side.
In the periphery, lit by small fires and string lights, folks gather with beers and guitars under cowboy hats and light jackets to celebrate freedom from the winter indoors. In a set of patio chairs under the pallid yellowy glow of an aged farmhouse porch light an elderly couple celebrate with Friday night porch sitting the first warm air and the night time scent of their freshly plowed land.
Even the soil has thawed and perfumes the air with its fertility. By the time we make it home, we too will take to our front porch, silvery stars shining on us through the trees and baby frogs singing in the ponds around us.
But by day we are up and gone with sunrise, riding aimlessly the backroads of America, farmhouses and pastures, barely standing bridges and crumbling barns. Even the deep sand color of winter pasture grass is changing, glowing soft golden as it comes back to life. Between miles of pastures, we passed a farmhouse being renovated, its yard pristine spring green, clover bright and nearly royal in tone, lustrous as velvet. The large sycamore in front reached out over the road, waving, dotted all over its branches with bright electric green clusters of new leaves. The pale blue sky was streaked with soft white cirrus and here on earth the land donned its Easter colors, the bold antique yellow of forsythia, dusty pale cinnabar tones of soft quince flowers, dreamy pale pink and soft cotton white fruit blossoms. Wide swathes of bright purple chickpea and emerald green clover carpeted the ground.
At lunch we took to the deck of a new dive, enjoying the cool breeze and the busyness of birds darting here and there in their annual preparations. Wind chimes called from somewhere in the neighborhood across the way, breaking the silence of the otherwise still cluster of once fine homes.
To our right a former garage sat empty as we wound our way through a discussion of people who don’t work on their own motorcycles into what this street might once have looked like.
“Remember when old men would have been sitting outside of that garage? I used to find excuses to go hang out around the garage just so I could listen to what they were talking about and maybe learn something.”
I laughed. “Remember riding bikes with your friends and if you passed a group of men working on cars or motorcycles, one of the kids in your group would have to stop the whole group to look over something on their bike? The way we would survey our bikes as though they were legitimate Harleys and the other kids would stand arms crossed or hands on their hips, really thinking over whatever might be wrong with our two wheeled mo-chine?”
“Eventually if we were lucky and they weren’t too involved in what they were doing the adults might come see what sort of issues our fine machines had going on and they might even invite us over to look at what they were doing.”
“I always made sure I had change in my pocket if I was going by the garage just in case they were working on something I wanted to know about. I’d use getting a soda from the machine by the door as my excuse to see if I could come in and see what they were doing.”
The former garage still sat silent, a rusted out Ford rotting in front, the sign post and its frame coated in vermillion patina, the light sockets long empty.
“I wonder if kids still do that.”
Early afternoon traffic buzzed by and the wind picked up.