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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last Day of Summer...

Today was the last official full day of summer. In fact, we watched it end at 7:42 PM EST as the sun set on the far side of Lake Michigan. I took a picture on my cell phone, but don't quite know how to get it on my computer. =)

We were camping at Holland State Park. I had an administrator’s conference near there on Friday, so I set up the camper Thursday night and went to the conference from there. Then after my daughter’s volleyball game on Friday (in Holland), the family joined me. It worked out great.

It’s been in the upper 80’s all week, and I hadn’t been swimming since Labor Day. So when the girls went shopping, I rode my bike to one of the largest fresh water beaches in the world to take one last dip.

Since it’s nearly October, I was surprised a few hundred other people had the same idea. Don’t get me wrong, there were acres and acres of empty sand, but down along the water’s edge were scores of people basking in the sun like beached sea lions and walruses (as the case may be). With my grey mustache and beard, I may have looked more like the latter.

After a refreshing swim in the chilly waves, I came in and stretched out on my towel. I thought back to that post I wrote in May about the bright sun and eyelashes. Wow! That was over four months ago? Where did the summer go? When I’m the only person on a beach, it’s a great place for contemplation, but when I’m surrounded by people who are with friends and family, and I’m alone with that Beatle’s nonsensical refrain “I am the eggman. I am the eggman. I am the walrus! goo goo g'joob!” going over and over in my head… it was kind of depressing. [Until a moment ago I thought that lyric was 'ku-ku-ka-chew!' not 'goo goo g'joob!'
Funny how you can spend your whole life singing a song wrong.]

The Holland Beach is so wide that the bike rack was a blur from the shore. I began wishing I had locked my bike since there’s a growing market for “retro” 10-speeds.

At the risk of sounding weird, I’ll tell you that this bike is kind of special to me. It’s the old Schwinn Continental I bought in 1971. I had just finished 9th grade, and had been saving my hard-earned paper route money for about a year. That particular bike was so popular back then that the Schwinn plant in Chicago could not keep up with demand. I had to wait two extra months for the bike to be made and delivered.

It was my bike in high school, college, and all the years afterwards until about ten years ago when I put it storage after buying an 18-speed mountain bike with all the bells and whistles. [Actually, there are many features on my other bike, but there are no bells and no whistles ... you knew what I meant.]

Then last summer I got out the old Schwinn, tuned it up, and when I rode it, I swear I felt like a kid again. I like the hard ride of the thin tires. I like the feel of the handle bars. I like the Tweedy Bird sticker I put on the gooseneck the summer I bought it. I like the click of the gears when I coast. But mostly, I like the memories that come up through my arms with every vibration of the road. Like the time my brother Dave and I rode over the Blue Water Bridge to Canada. They don’t allow it anymore, but in ’71 we just rode across, no questions asked. Coasting the long mile and a half down the other side we flew at 35 to 40 miles an hour on a sidewalk three feet wide with traffic two feet to our left and the blue water of the St. Clair River on the right (about 200 feet below). It was a rush to say the least. [Dave is still an avid goal-setting cyclist who thinks nothing of riding 80 to 100 miles a day.]

All these thoughts were going through my head as I walked the cool sand toward the parking lot. As I got closer I could see my blue bike standing out among the others there. I was relieved. I think if someone stole my more expensive 18-speed, I’d say, “Rats! Someone took my bike,” but losing this bike would be like losing an old friend. It's a functioning part of my past. It's not the continental part I like... it's the continuity.

I rode back to the campsite and started a fire early so the coals would be just right for "hobo pie." I bought a hinged skillet last year at an antique shop, and this would be a good excuse to use it. There's no real recipe for “hobo pie.” You just throw together things you like and cook it. This one had crumbled ground beef, sautéed onions and fresh mushrooms, and “smashed” baked potatoes. It’s good comfort food, sort of like Dad’s favorite hamburger gravy meal, but cooking it on a campfire adds a little smoke and ash for that "manly" flavor. =)

Sorry this is so random, but hey... it was the last day of summer! I did do some writing last night. I'll try to post the next chapter Monday evening.

6 Comments:

Blogger Nancy said...

Tom in getting to know you over the last several months, one of the traits I admire the most is... you enjoy life to the fullest- sharing it with your family, your readers, and your students. The last day of summer... it just doesn't get better than this. Thanks for sharing.

23/9/07 8:45 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

The photo of the Holland lighthouse is pretty. Well, summer may have officially ended, but it certainly doesn't feel like it is done with us.

We took advantage of this beautiful Sunday afternoon and treated our collie to a walk through a local preserve. He was so excited that he was going for a walk. He insisted upon sniffing every other tree on the walking path and leaving his mark there.

We topped off the day with a visit after supper to Culver's which has the tastiest ice cream custard. The dog stayed home.

I finally posted the third part to my story when you have time to give it a look.

23/9/07 9:11 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

Don't worry Tom, you aren't the only one who was singing that song wrong. LOL. Glad to see you had a really enjoyable day. Definitely a great way to say goodbye to summer until next year. :)

24/9/07 5:27 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy,
Today was the second day of fall and it was in the low 90's. That is a record for this date, but tomorrow it is supposed to cool down a bit and start to feel like autumn. It was a nice little trip.

SQ,
You weather is probably like ours. Isn't this strange? Today was so hot! I have a really bad cold so I wasn't able to enjoy it. We have a Culver's here, too. Good food as well as frozen custard.

Cris,
Glad to know I wasn't alone in thinking it was Ku-ku-ka-chew! I really don't know that song at all...just that one line. =)

24/9/07 11:08 PM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

hi tom, i'm catching up on my reading here. it's the end of september, and we're having a mix of autumn and summer. it's like fall wants to come in, but summer keeps saying, "no not yet." it'll be cold enough soon, so i'm going to bask in these last days of warmth.

30/9/07 6:08 AM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

hobo pie looks and sounds tasty.

30/9/07 6:12 PM  

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