Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
Man, wasn’t it August just 20 minutes ago? Time is absolutely flying by these days, and for once I can’t blame it on my busy life. I am busy, but not the kind of busy that usually causes the clock and calendar to shift to warp speed. This may that part of growing older that I’ve read about, that as the years pile up, the days seem to move much faster.
But whether I want it to or not, September is officially half over. October, my favorite time of year is rapidly approaching. It’s the one month of the year that I wish would slow down, take its time and drift languidly through its 31-day lifespan. But as usually happens, there is a significant gap between what I want, and what actually is.
The heat and humidityof summer has finally left us here in the mountains. The first breaths of cool air have blown down from Canada, and we are now in that time of year when weather shifts wildly and sometimes rapidly. Two days ago, it was warm, humid, and still. Tonight, we will have our first frost of the season. This does create difficulties in dressing one’s self, especially for motorcycling.
In the mornings, I install the zip-in liners in jacket and pants, and don a sweatshirt for one more layer. I put on my heavy gloves and take off for work. The air is chilly, especially on the hands and feet, and with the shortening daylight, the commute is now done in the gray half-light of dawn. On my mind also is that this is the time of year when deer become active, and I must be extremely vigilant as I travel. But while the daylight lasts, the ride is spectacular. In another three weeks or so, the leaves will start dressing themselves in their Technicolor hues and the mountainsides will become iridescent. The sky will lose its milky shade and turn a spectacular vivid blue. The sunlight, freed from summer’s haze, will make all nature’s colors starkly beautiful.
Of course, on the way home, it’s warmed up. This time of year, the difference in temperatures between six in the morning and 5 in the afternoon can range as much as 40 degrees. So the liners come out and the sweatshirt comes off. The heavy gloves are swapped for the perforated summer versions. My current bike, a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, has these kinda small saddle bags that don’t hold much. Folding and rolling those liners into a size and shape that will fit can be a frustrating process. But we don’t ride motorcycles for convenience. Gas mileage, maybe. But the whole purpose is tied to that singular moment when, bereft of wall, roof, and window, you find yourself one with the beauty of nature. Yeah, baby…that’s livin’; that’s life!
But fall never lasts long enough for me. Summer really drags by, at times seemingly endless. For you poor souls in Dallas who have had to deal with 100+ degrees for the last…what? 6 months?...this time must really be exasperating. You have my sympathy. But around here, the best days of fall – clear skies, highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s – don’t happen often enough. We get days of gloomy clouds, wind-blown rain, that really unpleasant cold and damp feeling that is just uncomfortable. Towards the end of the month the air gets cold enough for our first snow of the year. I used to be excited by that, but these days it means that the riding season is just about done. Once PennDOT puts that sand-and-salt mixture down on the roads, then fuggeddaboudit. I don’t ride well on roads covered in ball bearings.
Weather is what it is, and there’s no changing that. Life deals your hand of cards, and that’s the hand you have to play. It doesn’t do any good to complain, because there’s nobody who can do anything about it. But I will do my best to enjoy these days as I get them, and not whine too much.
Winter will be coming to these mountains before too much longer. The snow will pile up, the cold winds will blow, and life will shift to a far more indoors mode. The motorcycle will be prepped and placed into storage and for the next 6 months I will have to be satisfied with memories of sun-splashed roads and the gentle feel of a perfect day.
Those are the memories that become dreams.