I’ll preface this little experience by saying that I’m black, if you didn’t know. You might guess from the few photos I put up with myself featured.
Ok, so I was out getting these shots just now because I installed a three-inch tank lift on the Rapture (photos to follow). I was on some little road that led up to a few houses in the woods. I’ve gone there once before, a year or so back, so I figured I’d stop by again. It’s a nice little view.
Anyway, while I was there, a fella pulls up, heading towards his house, and rolls his window down. He’s in his mid-fifties, early sixties, maybe. “Man, that’s a nice bike,” he says. I say thanks, and expect him to roll on. He lingers instead, and asks if I want him to get a picture of me with the bike. Truth be told, guys, I don’t get many photos with me in shot because I don’t really want to be, but I say yes because I’d feel like a dick if I said otherwise. He pulls up a ways so his car is out of the way and starts walking back. Before he gets to me, though, another dude comes along, this time from his house instead of towards it. The guys exchange words, and the dude’s kid, twelve or thirteen, is in the passenger seat glancing at me. You know, that “I don’t want you to know I’m looking” kind of glance. I can already tell what’s happening here, but I try to assume better than the conclusions I’ve reached.
“I’ll handle it,” the first guy says.
The dude rolls on, and when he passes me, he makes sure to lock eyes, I’m guessing in some misguided bid to stand his ground. I’m disappointed because his kid’s in the passenger seat, and he’s just learned a little more about life.
The first guy comes up, chuckling, and says, “He was so scared, he thought you were dangerous. He asked if there was gonna be trouble and if he should call the cops.” I chuckle politely. “I told him I’d handle it, though,” he says conspiratorially.
Awesome. Again, anyway, he goes on to introduce himself as Johnny, takes the picture, and we talk about the bike a while. He doesn’t know anything about bikes, but I tell him a little about the blog and all that. He’s a genuine, amicable sort, and we start to hit it off a bit. He notices how I’m looking at the trees, and he invites me to his house up the drive to look at his gardens and the “paradise” he’s created. I agree because I like meeting nice folks on the ride, so I follow him up on the bike.
Well, damn, he really did have a bit of a paradise for the wildlife. Johnny had a picketed area for the deer to eat berries, a little pond tailor-made for fish, water sprites, a visiting heron, and frogs … all kinds of little setups! He walked me through the plant life, the philosophy of the landscape, the intention behind each little device and environment. At this point, I’m a little blown away.
We go around to his back yard and he shows me the amazing garden he’s set up. Little statues for birds to drink from and bathe in – “running water is what they’re drawn to!” – different plants that are dying out in the area made safe here, and all kinds of other cool stuff that I’ve already blasted forgotten. We ended up having this chat for about thirty minutes, and he told me that I’m welcome to come and read, take photos, or grade papers whenever I feel like it, whether he’s home or not!
I get tired of people pretty easily outside of my classroom, and I do think I prefer solo rides over group rides, though I like the latter well enough. All in all, I prefer a little solitude most of the time. But when I run into people like Johnny on rides, it always makes for the most inspirational experience.
There are good people out there, and I’m glad I just met another one.