Archive for Thursday, October 7, 2004

Bits and Pieces

Road has more twists, turns on a bicycle

October 7, 2004

I rode my bike downtown Sunday to the dollar store to pick up gift wrap for my grandson Gabe's birthday present. The usual Sunday lull hung over the blocks surrounding Main Street from Seventh to 10th, bringing back memories of when my family lived at Eighth and Elm just behind what was then C&S Market, which now houses Quilting Bits and Pieces.
I always love riding my bike through this part of town in spite of the hills, which make my knee complain and often force me to dismount and walk. No matter, because walking or riding a bike, one can take in small things that are usually lost to us as we whiz by in our automobiles.
The Hometown Dollar store as well as the Family Memories Scrapbooks store, Cutter's and the quilting store were all open on Main Street. The Dollar Store did a brisk business in toy guns, judging from the almost empty shelf and remembering how many little boys were carrying them the day before at EudoraFest. My grandsons Gabe and Grant as well as Jake Brown and Trey Byrne certainly had enough to start their own plastic arsenal.
Such variety stores are a great place to pick up a needed item or a craft supply, and it even has little boy's underwear and pails for mopping, as well as pet supplies. If you haven't been there, you need to take a look.
As I left Main Street and rounded the corner by the tea room and headed east on Seventh, I rode past Helen Everley's flowers, which are always lovely no matter what time of the year. She is such a talented gardener and has arranged her garden so something is always in bloom with the exception of the winter months. Knowing how gifted she is with plants; I sometimes expect to see poinsettias blooming outside her house at Christmastime.
Riding a few blocks east, I turn south and note that Holy Family Church as well as the Methodist church and St. Paul are all quiet now, their Sunday morning populations long since departed. Once again they seem to slumber in the last of the warm October sun that bears down making one wonder if summer really is over.
A few remaining locusts hid in the overlapping branches of the trees on Church Street between Seventh and Ninth. The trees created an oasis of shade, and the locust still emit the sound that always signals the end of summer in Kansas. My sister-in-law once told me that after moving to Lawrence from California she and her husband were often puzzled by the locust, thinking perhaps this mysterious noise was coming from the electrical lines overhead.
I love the sound because it recalls memories of times past, marking the end of summer and the beginning of fall bringing the smell of burning leaves, vivid autumn colors, the excitement of football games and Halloween as well as cool evenings.
Growing up without air conditioning in Kansas, many days were spent trying to find a bit of cool -- sometimes even in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket -- so autumn was eagerly awaited.
On my way downtown I spotted Mary Kay Gregory and her buddy, Steve Spence, spinning around in her silver convertible with the top down and now traveling down Church Street. I passed it again still with its top down sitting in front of her house. It was the perfect day for convertibles and I also glimpsed another bright red "'50s something" convertible making good use of this warm and sunny autumn day.
Rounding the corner of 11th and Church I spotted Loretta Gantenbein painting the railing around her back porch and stopped for a visit. Such an ordinary but also such a rare thing in my days that are often full of schedules and appointments -- even in retirement.
As I rode through the residential blocks heading home, I saw people sitting on front porches carving and making faces on pumpkins. It's a little early for Halloween, and one wonders if they will survive that long.
I didn't hear an argument as I sometimes do nor did I hear a television tuned into a football game. There were also people walking their dogs and just sitting in the sunshine on this lazy Sunday afternoon, conveying a sense of serenity. Nothing dispelled the peace that settled over our small town this day.
I had several topics to write about this week, but a simple errand, which would have only taken a few minutes in my car, became the excuse for an adventure and the subject of this week's column. My bike ride provided me the exercise I needed as well as giving me an opportunity to visit with a friend, to explore the downtown, sniff flowers. and eaves drop on others' Sunday afternoons. It also forced me to live in the moment, because one can't be worrying or solving life's problems while riding a bike. I highly recommend it.
Turn off the latest political report on television, take a break from your newspaper, ditch the treadmill until winter howls around the corner, don't take the car, put on your "tennies" or dust off your bike, and get outside to enjoy what is left of these fleeting, beautiful fall days.

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