Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Great Bee Chase [CCR]

There it was in the garage. I tripped over it and it reminded me of many good times growing up back home. I guess things were a little simpler for me then. Many people say the world is more complex, but I think the complexity comes from our loss of innocence as we create our own path in the world. When you move away from home you get to see a great many sights but you also see the full scope of life, both good and bad.

Mom and Dad had a simple trust of both me and just about everyone in our area. As such I had a lot of freedom to travel around, even if it were on a bicycle. Prior to my wonderful ten speed bicycle I had one of those “banana seat” bicycles with a speedometer. I would ride it over to the plant to meet Dad when he got off from work. Don’t tell him, but I would see how fast it would go down that hill just before you reached the gate. I wouldn’t dare guess the high speed now for sake of possible exaggeration, but it was plenty fast for a young boy. When Dad came out of the gate he would throw my bicycle in the back of our old 1951 pickup truck and give me a ride home.

Later Mom and Dad got me a ten speed bicycle. That bike took me on many trips through good and bad times, even in college. I had a water bottle and lights with a generator spinning in the spokes of the back tire. It was a wonderful bicycle that carried all around Cherokee until I got my driver’s license. I remember riding it to school at the end of my eighth grade year to pick up my report card. But more importantly was the transportation to the swimming hole down on the Natchez Trace in the summer. I would bike around Moody Lane and down North Pike and then down the Trace to the river. The swimming hole was popular in those days. Now when I travel down there on my trips home it seems I never see many people. I am not sure what happened. But I can remember the days when finding a parking place down there was a luxury. But with my bicycle I had no problems. I usually swam for an hour or so and then started the trek home. Riding home on the bicycle meant my cut-off jeans would be dry long before I would reach home.

My most memorable ride came on a whim. I would ride my bicycle from our house on Moody Lane to my Granddaddy Daily’s house at Mountain Springs. The trip seemed reasonable enough and I made the ride to Barton without a hitch. In fact the first leg of the trip down Mt. Mills Road was pleasant. I stopped at my great aunt’s house for water and a moment’s rest. Dad warned me to watch for rattlesnakes or copperheads. But he forgot to warn me of the one thing that made the trip a little more difficult than planned. I was more than halfway up the hill before the road to the fire tower when it found me. A bumble bee decided my sweat was either the perfect quench of his thirst or he just didn’t like my looks. Either way, I had walked up the steepest part of the hill, but now I was setting speed records down the hill with the bee right on my back. Somewhere towards the bottom I lost the bee. I climbed that hill twice in the summer sun that day. Later I would stop at my cousin’s for water just before I reached Mt. Springs Cemetery. After completing the trip Mom and Dad came to pick me up so I didn’t have to face the bee again.

In the past I have tripped over bicycles in the garage and sort of grumbled something about the kids and the way they left their bikes. But this time something triggered a memory of a bike, home, and many great rides throughout our end of the county. Rides where you never met a stranger, you could stop for plums or blackberries growing wild along the road, and you might even get chased by a bee.