Tuesday, August 17, 2010

pound for pound

Some how, through the twisting, convoluted turns of the universe, I have found myself in Europe... One may ask "how this could happen," I would answer, "On an airplane." I am in Liverpool, England, where the cars are hatchbacks, the lips have mustaches and the track suit is king.
Of all the ways to travel, by bicycle must be my favorite. It is a path used for hundreds and hundreds of years by horses pulling boats up and down the canal system from Leeds to Liverpool. Finding the begining in the city is the greatest task, I ask many people for directions, I am lost, it is so much like traveling in Mexico. I find the path finally and ride toward the outskirts of town. The water of the canal is full of garbage, the brick wall banks are crumbling and graffitied. I pass factory after factory, many steaming and buzzing, but even more that are lifeless and deteriorating, making the long journey back from where they came. Eventually the banks become reeds, ducks paddle on their belly boats, ancient gnarled beech trees line the way. It is Sunday and sunny. Many people are out letting the rare appernce of sun warm their hair, touch their blue-white skin. Fishermen are a plenty. I can only imagine what they would be catching- tiny minnows, a boot perhaps. I fight the urge to tell them stories about the rivers in Montana or Alaska. I ride through green rolling hills with little fences made of stone, under tiny arched bridges just wide enough for a horse and cart, past old farmhouses with thatched roofs and cabbage patches. Boats toot up and down the canal on Sunday outings. Families picnic on lawns in English gardens. Beer is drank at tiny pubs by people who's ancestors drank beer at the same tiny pub. After miles and miles I turn and ride through a forested area. I call it Sherwood forest. I close my eyes, briefly, and imagine this land as it once was. Covered same dark tree blanket as this one. There are almost no forests left in England. I will see none in my time here. I strain to feel the spirit of the land, but all I feel is the long term presence of people. The wilderness has long been worked from the earth, the mystery has dwindled. I am so greatfull for the land that raised me. How it taught me, shaped me, how my spirit mirrors its own.
Down farm lanes, through feilds, I arrive finally at my destination. Its Simon's dad's house- everyone is drinking beer in the garden. I crack one open and lay in the grass. God save the queen.