Friday, February 06, 2009

Slow is good

My daughter asked me the other day, “Dad, why do you pick slow things?”

“What do you mean, Sugarbear?”

“You like to ride your bicycle and you like to sail,” she said. “Motorcycles and motor boats go a lot faster.”

Guilty as charged. As to why, let’s see…Motors belch smoke and make noise. Maybe It’s an age thing. I don’t like noisy people and I don’t like noisy things.

Also, consider this: Last time I sailed to Cape Lookout, with the world sliding by, like a lazy carousel backdrop, I heard a splash off the port bow and saw a pod of dolphins break the water right in front of the boat. They were this close! Just inches below the surface. You could see their undulating silver shapes shimmer through the water. They were playing with the boat, racing her. You just don’t see that in a power boat. The noise scares them away.

It’s winter now and I don’t get the opportunity to ride the Trek 2300 as much. But when a warm day comes along I will take to the two-lane paved roads that cross-hatch the rolling farmland just west of our neighborhood. On one such day recently, I rode past a cemetery. I had clicked the derailleur into a high gear, preparing for a slight downhill grade, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young woman, her back to me, standing beside a new grave. I was moving quickly but I saw that she had in her right hand one of those foil balloons. She was staring down at a fresh mound of dirt.

I continued my ride and made the turn-around at Highway 751 and then began to pedal home. By the time I passed the cemetery a second time, the woman was gone. Curious, I pedaled over to the fresh mound of dirt. His name was Ronald Brennan, age 24. The balloon was still there, bobbing in a light breeze. It bore the words “I (symbol for heart) You”. Articles that had been placed around the grave let me know that Ron had been a musician. A styrofoam guitar studded with flowers made some reference to an “angel band”. Several people had signed it. I wondered about the balloon woman. Was she a friend? His girlfriend? His wife?

I finished my ride and slid the bike back onto its rack in the garage. I was still thinking about Ronald Brennan as I removed my helmet and shoes. After a shower, I plugged his name into Google. Nothing. But when I searched local obituaries, his name popped up. He had died seven days ago of bone cancer. He played and sang at people’s weddings and parties but his regular job was doing construction. No mention of a wife or why he had died so young.

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