Thursday, November 29, 2007


I read a magazine on the plane trip home from Mexico. There was this fascinating article about a man called Birdseye and his fellow pioneers in the world of frozen foods. It seems that they went to Labrador where they noticed that the fish, instantly frozen by Mother Nature after the catch, could be cooked to perfection. I tossed the magazine into the airplane garbage when they brought the cold drinks. . I was hot on that plane, sweating in long pants I hadn’t warn since I left home, infused with the Mexican air that was so warm you could swim in the ocean at 10:00 on any evening and emerge from the water with a stout breeze blowing on you and never even shiver.
It was about 10:00 when the revolving door at Edmonton International Airport spun us out onto the sidewalk where we were to wait for the park-and-ride shuttle van. The temperature was -19 C. An icy gale was pelting snowbanks through the sky. In the short time we waited for the van I froze up tighter than a fish in Labrador.
Back at the office I am thawing scientifically, in very cool conditions, the way you are supposed to thaw your Christmas turkey by putting it in the fridge several days before you need to cook it. My old radiator is managing the project, remaining cool while radiators in other offices blast out hotter than the mid-day Mexican sun.
I’ve been pretty quiet this week, just doing my job and meeting my obligations, moving glacially like a person in shock, or a slowly thawing fish. But I am wondering, based on the expert observations of Birdseye and others, if, when I finally warm up, I will be just about perfect, and if it will be almost Christmas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


So here’s a story about the rightness of time and place.
David is shopping at Audreys Books, trolling for good books to read on the beach in Mexico, when he overhears the clerk assisting a customer by phone.
Ronna Fey Jevne,”” the clerk says, and the book is called Finding Hope?””
The clerk searches his computer. Yes, he can find the book, but Audreys no longer carries it. They used to have copies, but they don’t now.
Psssst,”” says David to the clerk. I can help that customer.””
The phone is handed to David, who explains to the customer that the Hope Foundation has copies of Finding Hope. He explains that the Hope Foundation is closed today, but will re-open tomorrow. He gives the customer the number to call.

We don’t know who the customer is, or how the customer happens to be looking for that book. We do know that the customer probably doesn’t know about the Hope Foundation. Finding Hope is our best-selling book. People who know us buy their Jevne books here. What we do know is that there are days when the universe simply cooperates, and that’s good to know.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I hope to have more conversations about audible traffic signals, particularly audible traffic signals for the streets I cross. But at the moment the possibility of such conversation is just a little daunting. I’ve been temporarily silenced by a serious attack of Marvelocity Syndrome.
It ain’t easy being marvellous—especially when you’re not—even though you are thought to be! I know this from an insider’s perspective. I am one among millions of Earth’s citizens who suffer from Marvelocity Syndrome, a chronic and all-too-common condition that afflicts people with disabilities.
Like all syndromes, Marvelocity Syndrome is actually a collection of characteristics that tend to occur in groups and follow some predictable patterns. It is characterized by an ongoing tension between myth and reality. Though the condition has likely existed for as long as there have been people with disabilities, it wasn’t officially named until 2007, when Wendy Edey drew together the data gathered in more than fifty years of personal life research. You might call it a longitudinal study with a flexible, environmentally responsive research design. As its discoverer I could have assigned my own name to this syndrome. But I never wanted to be permanently associated with something miserable, the way Alzheimer, Parkinson and Lou Gehrig have been. So I chose a term that describes the process, starting with marvellous and picking up speed, in other words, increasing velocity.
Marvelocity Syndrome is a serious condition, spread by well-meaning but ill-informed observers. It starts out with early admiration. Left unchecked, this early admiration can turn into the belief that the thought-to-be-marvellous person has supernatural powers, extended senses that compensate for the debilitating effects of the disability. This unfounded belief will henceforth be known as the Myth of Marvellousness. Like viruses and other nasty bugs, myths of marvellousness start out tiny and harmless. Then they grow and multiply. They are spread throughout the population by unsuspecting carriers. Given the right conditions, they begin to cause infections by growing where they were never intended to take root. Sometimes they start growing in the minds of people who have authority and resources that could be used to improve the lives of those who are thought to be marvellous. Damage can occur when the myth of marvellousness becomes the basis for decision-making. We people with disabilities suffer the worst effects of Marvelocity Syndrome when our needs are not taken seriously because we are admired so much. Additional complications include loss of temper, vanishing sense of humour, feelings of victimization and just plain demonstration of bad manners. It’s a cruel disease, believe me! You heard it from a patient with a full-blown case.
It took me several years to identify the connection between Marvelocity Syndrome and my quest for audible traffic signals. The signals are, for me, a need. I need the signals to help me cross streets safely, the way sighted people do, by knowing, rather than guessing when the signal tells you to walk. As is the case with many great discoveries, the evidence of the connection has been there for some time, but the moment of recognition came in a blinding flash (no pun intended). It all came together for me in an impromptu conversation with a carrier of the myth of marvellousness.
Like many infectious people, the man who talked to me about audible signals had been completely unaware that he was carrying the myth of marvellousness. Like many potential victims, I also was unaware. Neither of us noticed it until our conversation drew it out. One minute we were chatting amiably, the next minute I was angry enough to throw a brick, and he was running for cover, not taking any further chances, lest there be a brick within my reach. Since he is by nature both a man of generosity and compassion, the intensity of our conversation took us both by surprise. The myth of marvellousness had done an ugly number on us. Here’s how I remember it.
Him: “The audible signal you asked for is not on our list. We install three signals a year. We do the ones that need it most.”
Me: “How do you decide which ones are needed?”
Him: “The CNIB knows. You’re known to the CNIB aren’t you?”
Me: “Yes, but I don’t quite understand how that matters, given that they didn’t get in touch with me to ask any questions. Did they take me off the list without being required to ask me any questions?”
Him: “Well, I don’t know if it’s that specific. There’s a policy that’s followed. What is the problem with your signal crossing anyway?”
Me: “I push the button for the Walk signal, and I wait for the light to change. It’s a short light and you have to step out right when it changes. But there is no good way for me to know when it changes. Sighted people tell by looking at the light.”
Him: “But you listen to the traffic, don’t you?”
Me: “Yes, but you can’t always tell by listening to the traffic. What if there is no traffic for twenty seconds? What if a lawnmower is going? What if there’s construction? What if somebody stops to make a left-hand turn? What if I have a cold and my ears are plugged? What if the wind is making a big noise? What if the cars are new and very quiet?”
Him: “Well, it is true that some intersections don’t have enough traffic so you can tell for sure. But you must be crossing that street somehow.”
Me: “Look, if you want to understand this better, then come down to my neighbourhood and we’ll go to that corner. We’ll put a blindfold on you, and then as soon as you think its safe, you just walk right across that road.”
Him: “Oh no, no no. That’s not how it is. That’s not something I could do. I couldn’t do that. You people have a special ability, an extra sense. You sense when it’s safe. You sense when those cars have stopped. You’ve had the training from the CNIB. I couldn’t do that.”

This conversation illustrates how the myth of marvellousness can seriously impair the judgment of people with decision-making capacity. What it does not show is how Marvelocity Syndrome can lead to dead-end conversations, and ultimate despair. I didn’t throw a brick at this man. There wasn’t a brick within my reach. But I did lose my temper, which scared him away,leaving me talking to a blog about audible signals when I need to be talking to a person in authority.
In future papers I will document my research regarding the conditions that propagate the myth of marvellousness. I will show how we people with disabilities unintentionally contribute to the growth of the myth by working so hard to overcome barriers. I will examine the influence of the positive media messages about independence in the absence of clear statements about need. On a hopeful note, I will continue to document and call attention to the measurable, undeniably enormous improvements in service to people with disabilities that have taken shape over the past thirty years.
And yes, I will try to find a way to restart the conversation about audible signals. The man I almost threw the brick at is, as I said earlier, a generous and compassionate man. At present he only has the resources to install three signals a year, and he feels the pain of putting those in because citizens call him up to complain when new signals are installed. He is working with a policy that keeps my needs low on the list. So he’ll have to be passionate about advocating, and it would really help him move forward if the CNIB could be stirred to passion as well.
Some day more people in positions of power will speak honestly and knowledgeably about the street-crossing challenges faced by those of us who don’t see the lights. When they do, I’ll be there to back them up with sound logic and decades of personal experience. Some day there will be a cure for Marvelocity syndrome. In the meantime, I promise to try to work on my sense of humour, and I also challenge compassionate and generous people everywhere to deepen their understanding of Marvelocity Syndrome, recognizing its causes, symptoms, and consequences.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The community kitchen is open again
In the centre of town, so near to us
With winter reaching her icy hand
Threatening to cut off the food supplies.

Chickadees and Woodpecker come to the feast
Using their manners, polite in their waiting
While Blue Jay and Magpie shake the feast table
Squawking and dumping the meal on the ground.

Squirrel and Rabbit and Pheasant drop by
To clean up the mess that was spilled on the ground
While Lawrence watches TV wit one eye
His other eye watching the show playing live
A wildlife feature, commercial free
At the birdfeeder just outside the window.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I’ve always loved variety, diversity. I suppose that helps to explain what led me to do my thesis on humour rather than on the more common topics in counselling, like grief and loss, or childhood trauma. I suppose it also helps to explain why I would choose to specialize in hope and apply this knowledge in a variety of ways, rather than specializing with a particular disorder or client group. Interesting people and projects come to a hope specialist. They just show up because they are searching for something extraordinary that might help them advance a dream they’ve been nurturing. What a gift they are to those of us who love variety and diversity.
Yesterday’s gift to me was Sylvio, a volunteer with the GoodHearts Mentoring Foundation. GoodHearts, based in Edmonton, provides organ recipients, patients on waiting lists, their families and caregivers with encouragement, support and guidance during each stage of the transplant journey. Our aim is that no individual — pre- or post-transplant — be left alone when needing answers, understanding and empathy from someone who has experienced this life-altering journey.”” The GoodHearts mentors are hoping that the hospitals will eventually provide their volunteer mentors with professional support for training and networking. While they wait for this dream to be realized, they are concentrating on doing their own networking and using whatever opportunities they can create for mentor training. Sylvio says, “We started out in the area of heart transplants, but other body parts got involved.” They found a manual in Georgia. They found that the Kidney Foundation had already done some work in mentoring.
Sylvio’s brief visit to Hope House has launched me on a course through uncharted territory that seems uncommonly familiar. This is precisely the kind of visit that started my involvement with teachers on disability, and Alzheimer family caregiver training. A similar conversation led me to join staff and spouses for hope conversations with groups with ALS patients. This one will take me to a small group workshop on a Saturday morning. It is already taking me back in my life, on a little memory journey.
We lived next door to the man who received Edmonton’s first heart transplant. His wife cared for our children while we worked. They called him Uncle. He gave them gifts. He played with them. He loved their golden hair. He helped build the fence between our two yards, a fence made intentionally short to facilitate over-the-fence visiting. The only Muslim weddings we have ever attended were the weddings of his daughters. When he died, his was our first Muslim funeral.
These days we don’t hear about heart transplants, but his, the first in Edmonton, was really big news more than twenty years ago. He and his wife were born in Pakistan. Their names told us they were foreigners. When his name was splashed all over the media, there were anonymous hate calls.
Too bad his name wasn’t published as Uncle.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I’ve often said that bigger is not necessarily better. I’ve said it about fund-raising events and tomato plants. I’ve said it about the muffins you buy at mall kiosks. So I felt a sense of kinship when the radio show food columnist declared that the biggest pumpkins are not your best choice if your goal is to use them for food. Buy small, she said. There’s not much pulp in a big pumpkin.
Her words came to me just as I was checking the bottom of the pumpkin that sat on our living room lamp table. I tend to check pumpkin bottoms fairly often, having once discovered that a seemingly innocuous pumpkin was secretly storing a disgusting puddle of ooze beneath itself. I check even the healthiest-looking pumpkins, the way you check on the cheeriest babies to prevent a diaper rash.
Our pumpkin bottom was both clean and dry—surprising really. For it was ripe when it arrived, and it had been sitting in the bright sunshine on that lamp table for 25 days. Had it not been such a heavy pumpkin, I might have thought it was mostly empty. But it was heavy, a definite two-handed carrier. It was tall and slightly oval-shaped, with a clean flattish front side for jack-o-lantern carving. It was a great pumpkin for carving, a really great pumpkin. It was also a beautiful pumpkin for display, so, knowing that beauty is sometimes only skin-deep, we promised to forgive it if it started to ooze before Halloween. We just happened to be pushing a really big cart the day we bought it, which made it seem not-quite-so-big, and not-quite-so-heavy.
Halloween came and went without any carving. Priorities for that sort of activity can change without warning. There was a time in our household when pumpkin carving could not possibly be neglected. But the baby of the family, the one who always wanted a pumpkin, doesn’t nag about pumpkins the way he used to, now that he is 24 years old.
So our pumpkin soldiered on. When it’s sojourn on the lamp table extended to 29 days, and still its bottom was dry, I felt we had no choice but to act. This was clearly a pumpkin to be reckoned with. It would not be taken lightly. We would soon need to clear the table space for a poinsettia. So I lugged the great pumpkin over to the kitchen counter, and seized the only thing that could take it on--a great big knife.
Sometimes you can trust the experts, other times—not so much. I’m sure the radio cooking lady thought she was on the right track when she said a big pumpkin doesn’t hold much that is edible. All I can say is, she never saw our pumpkin. The moment the lid came off, we realized that we had been harbouring a monster. Its enormous cavity swarmed with slimy strings strangling clumps of captive seeds. Its peel was thin. Its walls were thick. The lid alone had enough flesh to make a pie.
Realizing that something had to be done, we liberated enough seeds to cover a huge cookie sheet and set them aside to roast. Instinct bade me quit while I was ahead, to make one pie from the lid and send the great pumpkin to the garbage, which is, after all, the place where it would have gone if it had begun to ooze.
Do you ever find that your instinct gets into an arm-wrestling match with your ethics? This is one of those times when it happened to me. Instinct pushed for the garbage. Ethics pushed for preserving the food. “It’s not right to throw away good food,” said Ethics. “This pumpkin is perfectly good. All over the world, even right here in Edmonton, people are hungry. A hungry person wouldn’t throw away a perfectly good pumpkin.”
And so, with Ethics scoring a knock-out, David set about the task of cutting the pumpkin into pieces and putting it on to boil. He used our biggest pot. He used it four times. He took off the peel and mashed the pulp in the food processor. “There are about 20 cups of pulp here,” he said to me. But he was wrong. There were 24, not counting the pulp on my shirt front, the pulp that dripped on the counter, the pulp Pirate ate off the floor, the pulp that clung to the kitchen sink, the pulp that stuck to the pot, or the pulp that filled every crevice on the outer surface of the food processor.
As day wore into night, the monster was gradually subdued. Before ensuring ourselves against a future of pumpkin deprivation by packing up twelve cups of pulp for the freezer, we made three cakes, two pies and a pot of pumpkin soup. We started at 2:00. We were still cleaning up at 10:00.
All my friends said, “What on earth are you going to do with the rest of the pumpkin?” And I will admit to having been a bit concerned at the outset. But things are seldom as hopeless as they first appear to be.
There are options for the pumpkin in our freezer. We could give some away, provided we can find somebody willing to take pumpkin pulp several weeks after Thanksgiving. Or, we can turn to the Internet. The first site that came up in the simple search has 55 recipes. Number 55 is entitled Chunky Cat Barf—For Kids. But the other 54 look promising. That pumpkin will be gong in no time.

1. Teleme, Squash, and Onion Galette
2. Pumpkin Swirl Cake
3. Pumpkin Muffins
4. Tempting Pumpkin Pie
5. Mini Pumpkin Spice Cakes with Orange Glaze
6. Halloween Pumpkin Spice Cookies
7. Pumpkin Pancakes
8. Pumpkin Nut Bread
9. Pumpkin-Spice Muffins
10. Pumpkin Souffle
11. Pumpkin Pie
12. Pumpkin Spice Cake
13. Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie
14. Pumpkin chocolate chip Muffins
15. Holiday Pumpkin Bread
16. Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
17. Speedy Squash Soup
18. Butter-Steamed Squash
19. Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie
20. Hot Mediterranean Squash Dish
21. Pumpkin Bread
22. Pumpkin Cake Roll
23. Pumpkin Cheesecake
24. Pumpkin Pie - sugarfree
25. Pumpkin Cake
26. Pumpkin Bars
27. Rich Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles
28. Light 'n Easy Crustless Pumpkin Pie
29. Spicy Pumpkin Butter
30. Vegetable and Rice Stuffed Pumpkin - vegetarian
36. Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bars
39. Pumpkin Molasses Cake
43. Pumpkin Pies
45. Pumpkin Spice Torte
48. Sweet Potato Pie with a three Nut Topping
52. Pumpkin Creme Brulee
53. Skillet Squash
54. Meetha Kaddoo (Braised Butternut Squash with Jaggery)
55. Chunky Cat Barf - kids

Monday, November 05, 2007

choosing the sunrise

On the train this morning with sleepy-eyed passengers
Carried by routines of Monday’s beginning
The loudspeaker voice came on soothing and rhythmic
As only mechanical voices can be.

We’re delayed,”” the machine was quick to inform us
And indeed our train was standing still.
Please stay onboard,”” the voice entreated
While all of the passengers murmured ascent.

Suspended high over the fast-flowing river
We were watching a beautiful sun as it rose
And the driver had locked all the doors with his switch
So we couldn’t have left no matter what we chose.

Hypnotized by the tone of that oh-so-calm voice
We acted as if we were making the choice.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I was born with the confidence to tell stories on a stage, and the dream of being a writer. I followed my confidence, went where it led me, and kept the sputtering dream alive. My confidence took me to happy places. My dream, well, not so much.
My confidence earned me a reputation for being interesting, to thirty years of standing on stages, telling my personal stories to strangers, to relieve the boredom of the endless content we offer at business presentations.
My dream drove me to writing classes, one-day seminars and weekend retreats, where I read short pieces out loud to my classmates, and later published nothing. One of my teachers said, “Writers write.” But I only wrote in writing classes. All of my teachers said, “Writers read.” And I read every day, which makes me a reader, but not a writer.
My confidence led me to storyteller stages, where stories are told for the pleasure of listeners. Standing at the microphone I told other people’s stories. That was all I had. I was not a writer.
My dream opened up my ears and my wallet. It led me to sit in audience chairs, at events where storytellers tell their stories, laughing and crying and gasping for breath, worshipping weavers of personal stories, fuelled by intention, told without notes, and probably written down somewhere.
I told a story to a business audience, a personal story, told with intention, to help them connect with some difficult content. And when somebody asked me to write it down, instead of ignoring that simple request, I wrote it and shared it, though it wasn’t very good, not as good as it was when I told it.
So I retold that story and then I rewrote it, and then I retold it and then I rewrote it and then I retold it and then I rewrote it. And then I took it to a storyteller’s stage, where a storyteller heard it and said, “You are an amazing writer!” Next day I rewrote it, and sent it to a magazine, where they’ve promised to publish it—with minor revisions.
To my writing teachers I offer my thanks for all the support and encouragement you gave me, and also my promise which I know you would want, that though I will celebrate this long-awaited victory, I’m not going to quit my day job.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Not too long after we got married, David and I bought a tandem bicycle. Our plan was to cruise the streets and alleys of suburbia. I hopped on behind him and after the first few tense moments of developing the trust that somehow we would both be leaning the same direction at the same time, those wonderful old feelings came back to me. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the pumping of your calves when the pedals turn the wheels. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as the wind playing your hair on a day that isn’t breezy at all until you get going. I had all of this and I celebrated it. Truly I did. But there was just one more little thing I wanted. I wanted to steer.
Okay! So maybe it seems a little audacious to you. Maybe you are thinking that if you have one blind rider and one sighted rider it would be best to put the sighted rider in front. And basically I agree with that. Truly I do. But the whole experience of riding a bike is just that much more perfect when you are the one steering. I knew this to be true, remembered it from childhood.
Now I have never claimed to be an excellent steerer. If they offered me a straight line to follow as a sobriety test on any given day I would likely be falsely arrested for impaired driving. But I do have a tiny bit of vision, and if a path contrasts in colour with the area at its edge, and if I keep my tiny point of vision directly on the line of contrast without blinking or moving my head, I can follow that path by watching.
The first bicycle I ever steered belonged to my little brother Allan. You can say whatever you like about little brothers. Call them pests or tell stories about how they ruined your childhood by breaking one of the china tea plates your dolls used to eat off. I’ve looked at little brotherhood from many sides, as a big sister, as the wife of a little brother, searching for the truth amid the sibling reminiscences at many a Sunday dinner. The little brothers of the world tell me I really don’t understand what they go through. What I will say on the subject is this: I would never have learned to ride a bicycle if I’d not had a little brother.
My little brother was little indeed, five years littler than me, his next-up sister. By the time he came along, I’d had quite a bit of practice at being the littlest, a position in the family pecking order that brings with it certain advantages. One of the advantages it brought to me was big sisters, seven and eight years older than me, the kind of sisters who can really be useful. It’s like having more mothers and grannies, a great convenience when you need somebody to tie your shoes or button the buttons on the back of your dress. Big sisters can also ride you double on their bikes, which is what sister Sandra used to do for me. Thank Heaven she had a boy’s bike. I could sit sideways on the bar, holding my legs out to keep them away from the wheel. We’d whiz around the block which, on the farm meant, up the trail to Granny’s house, down her driveway, out onto the road, over to our driveway, then up to our house. The block was small, so on a good day we’d continue right on back to Granny’s and make the whole loop another time. It was Sandra who first introduced me to the way the wind plays in your hair on a bike ride. Given the fact that I was getting a little heavier every day, and taking into account her affinity for teaching, I probably would have learned bike riding from her if she’d had permission to teach me. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn a blind child loose on a bike.
The days of riding double had ended by the time I turned ten. Sandra’s old red CCM one-speed with the carrier basket on the handlebars stood lonely in the garage, waiting for Little Brother Allan to grow into it. He paid it no attention, seeing as how he was preoccupied with the challenge of learning to ride his tiny blue-five-year-old-size two-wheeler with the carrier rack on the back. Did I mention that little brothers are known for their tendency to get things their bigger sisters never had? Anyway, he had this little blue bike that was just tall enough so his feet couldn’t touch the ground. But mine could!!!
I don’t know how I discovered this, or why I even tried to sit on the seat of that little blue bike of his. Memory is an imperfect science. Perhaps I was plotting some nefarious compensation for the broken tea plate. I can imagine myself putting my right foot on the right pedal, but I really don’t know why I also put my left foot on the left pedal, given that there were no tricycle wheels at the back, no training wheels to steady me. I am scared of roller coasters. I am scared of going down steep hills. Did I mention that I was nominated for Chicken of the Year fifty-three years in a row?
But Allan’s little blue bike didn’t scare me, possibly because it took so much effort to keep my feet from dragging on the ground. Dad got involved somehow, possibly when Little Brother Allan asked for a turn on his bike. I remember him steadying me from behind, urging me to keep both feet on the pedals. Before long I was cruising slowly along the driveway, tiny wheels spinning beneath me, while my knees rhythmically tapped the handlebars with each revolution. Those were the days when my knees were so often bandaged that a few revolutionary bumps couldn’t do them much harm. So I kept on riding, gathering speed along the entire length of Granny’s driveway. Dad himself used to be a bike rider. He was delighted.
Out of the garage came Sandra’s old red CCM. I was too chicken to push up on to seat with my feet dangling in the air, so Dad took me over to the back step where I could stand a little higher and climb aboard the easy way. “Push off with your left foot,” he said, and the next thing I knew I was cruising on the big wheels, pumping the pedals with feather-like ease, flying along Granny’s driveway with the wind in my hair.
Things might have turned out differently if Dad had put together the whole picture at the beginning of the first lesson. He might have foreseen that Granny’s driveway would not be long enough to contain the cycling passion of a girl pushing big pedals with the wind playing in her hair. He might have anticipated that a girl who could only navigate by focussing her tiny spot of vision directly on the road’s edge without ever looking up for even a millisecond would—more than occasionally—glance up to admire the sunshine and thus find herself smacking into the back of his blue Pontiac, or unceremoniously exploring the ditch bottom beside the road. I followed the tractor paths across the field. I crashed into fences. I fell into mud puddles and hit my face on tree branches. I skinned my ankles as well as my knees. I even rode my little cousin double on the bar, though I doubt if his mother knew it. As for my own little brother, he was now completely free to ride his own little bike whenever he chose.
I lost touch with my bike during high school, or maybe I just got too old for skinned ankles and knees. I never planned to take up riding again. But then David and I got this tandem.
David agreed to let me steer our new bike in our back alley. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous since I hadn’t steered in a long time, and the bike was too tall to accommodate my feet dragging on the ground. Looking back later, I realized that I probably should have tried to steer at a time when he wasn’t riding on the back. But the tandem was new to us, we liked to do things together, and we never considered riding alone.
David’s backseat pedalling experience proved to be unsatisfactory. I guess he found it a little nerve-wracking, the way I gave the first two pedal pushes and headed straight for the neighbour’s fence. I’d say he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with my weaving from side to side, depending on which boundary happened to come into my line of vision. And it could just be that he’s a little more concerned with having control than some other people have been. Whatever the reason, that particular chapter of my bike-riding saga ended about thirty seconds after it began. Maybe we should have experimented on a smaller bike.
I’ll admit to being a little disappointed with the way things turned out. I knew, when he suggested we change places, that this was probably the last time I’d ever sit on the front seat of a bicycle. I could have held a grudge all these years, but I didn’t. Instead, I chose to forgive him for not having faith in my driving, the way I forgave my little brother for breaking the tea plate to my best set of china doll dishes. And I am glad I forgave him, because we rode that tandem often, chatting and leaning together as the pedals pumped and the wind played in our hair.