Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why we should always ride bikes: Beauty

I don't mean that bike-riding makes us beautiful, although my own sculptured physique may suggest that it does. Rather, bicycling has the most felicitous of speeds: Fast enough to be a useful means of transportation but slow enough to give the rider ample opportunity to appreciate beauty in all of the little ways it manifests itself. Case in point: Last night around 10:30, I was in the middle of one of my ever-more-frequent rides to Middletown to retrieve my car. On Willow Street in Wethersfield, I was riding past a dark open space somewhat lower than the roadway - maybe a ballfield or a swamp or pond - when I noticed a lovely green twinkling pervading the darkness below the horizon, sort of like those hundreds of flash bulbs you see going off in the stands during slow-motion replays of important moments in baseball games. Naturally, it was lightning bugs, which are not, per se, something worthy of comment. But honestly, I had never seen lightning bugs quite like this: When I was a kid, I would spend twilight at my grandparents' suburban house chasing two or three fireflies around the edge of the yard, tracking then in the growing gloom and trying to catch them in a jar (or in my hand, so I could smush them and smear their glowy stuff on me). But these bugs in Wethersfield were something else altogether: Thousands and thousands of them spread out over a quarter mile space, flashing and flashing without any concern for prowling kids or anything else, like the last sparkle of distant fireworks repeated over and over in an uninterrupted darkness. I think it was the first time since I was eight that lightning bugs inspired me with such unchecked wonder.

Sadly, my digital camera was completely unable to detect this little miracle, so all I can do is recommend that everyone take a bike ride south down Willow Street from Wells Road to Prospect Street in Wethersfield some summer night and look to the right. The sublime, quiet minutes you will spend contemplating fireflies are absolutely worth the trip.

1 comment:

chillwill said...

glad the ride went so well.