Sleet and Other Gifts

Today was one of those days that everything seemed to lift me. A picture on Facebook of a friend who recently passed away was posted by her widower. She was dressed in winter clothes and smiling her signature radiant smile. A gift from the beyond.

I left the house ready to greet the day with the smile in my mind’s eye. The day had yet to break. The Mule and I rode off in the dark thankful that the 26 degree air was calm. Within a mile I was completely comfy in my layers of pathetic looking winter gear. If I wasn’t on a bike, I am pretty sure passers-by would give me money for a hot meal.

I arrived at the Mount Vernon Trail still before sunrise. About 1 1/2 miles into the ride, the predawn sky was an hallucination. I stopped to admire it and take a picture. A gift for the eyes.

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The rest of the ride just flowed. Without effort, I reached the 14th Street Bridge. Dawn had broken. The monuments, cathedral, and other DC buildings were reflected in the calm river. A gift on the water. I paused to admire the tableau then climbed the ramp to the bridge and headed into DC.

Riders coming towards me were bundled up so much that I could see only part of their eyes and noses. They all looked unhappy. Cheer up people it’s awesome out here!

I arrived at Swings House of Caffeine and bikes were parked everywhere. It was the third anniversary of Friday Coffee Club. The joint was packed with bike commuters. Coffee Club co-founder Ed had brought a cake and was handing out slices to the throng. Aside from Ed there was Lisa (who hasn’t been to Coffee Club in months) and Kirstin and Kristen and Reba and Chris and Ricky and Lawyer Mike and Michael and Ted and Brook and Jesse and Ryan and Jacques and Mary and Jeff and Sam and on and on. I even met a first time attendee, Jessica who commutes most days by bike from Capitol Hill. And so I enjoyed the gift of friends, old and new.

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The gift of cake for breakfast
Ricky with the 8-ball helmet and Jacques behind him
Ricky with the 8-ball helmet and Jacques behind him

The ride to work back across the Potomac was  serene. The river was ice free and I spotted a magnificent great blue heron wading next to the river bank on the Virginia side. A gift from the skies.

The workday was uneventful. Just before I left work a friend who had recently left DC  posted a short video of her feeding baby goats some milk. It was the first time I had heard her laugh in months. A gift for the ears.

The ride home began in a cold, light rain. The path downhill to the Mount Vernon Trail had been sprayed with brine. The Trail itself is never treated. Could I make it home if the rain started to freeze? The rain shone like tinsel in my headlight. Then sleet came down, stinging my face. I stuck out my tongue to feel the icy cold pellets. A gift for the senses.

As I rode along a cyclist approached. It appeared to be a woman but her face was covered in a scarf. She said something to me in passing. Someone I knew? No way to tell. [I subsequently learned it was Sam who was not getting this whole gift of sleet idea.]

I gingerly made my way home, taking what route the elements allowed. I stayed off the busier streets and arrived home intact, grateful for the gift of shelter from the elements.

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