Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning

Spring has truly arrived here in Florence. This morning we repeated our ride along the river. It went so much better for a couple of reasons. First, I felt better today than I did the last time we rode. It’s surprising how tiring pain can be, and how it so completely changes how I experience a day. In addition I have had my bike reworked a bit since the last ride.  I had a couple of inches cut off the handlebars and now I can ride comfortably for a much longer time. An added benefit has been that I no longer feel that I am the size of the Queen Mary as I ride along the street. No more fears that pedestrians on either side will be jabbed in the ribs and no more worrying about catching the handlebars on fences, walls, hedges, etc. I can slide through the smallest gap now. Which is good, because that’s the only size gap there seems to be in Florentine traffic.

But to get back to spring…today reminded me of the first few days of spring in Minnesota. You can never be sure what you will see. Today I saw people bundled up as if snow were imminent. Stocking caps, scarves and puffy down coats are still out there but in between all those sensible people are the school kids in their shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts. Then there are those who stick to the middle of the road. Men in wool sports jackets and women in lighter hose and shoes instead of boots. Makes me want to shop for new spring clothes. I have my eye on this great pair of lavender cowboy boots…

Spring is also the season of love. OK, granted, here it seems to always be the season of love, but I think they take it up a notch during the spring. Couples stroll through parks, sprawl on the grass, and yes, kiss everywhere. Today was especially sweet I think. As we rode through the park we saw two people being pushed in their wheelchairs down a path. As they rolled along they held hands and waved at everyone who passed. The smiles on their faces were the brightest, purest love light I have seen in a long time. If I weren't already in love seeing them together would make me wish for it.

The ride was as beautiful as last time except the sun has more heat in it now. Everything is coming alive. The trees are sporting their pale green new leaf fuzz, the grass is soft and filled with little flowers. Makes you glad to be alive. And just before turning back to Florence we stopped for a snack and coffee. We had focaccia fresh from a wood fired oven, all soft and salty on top and crusty on the bottom. We had our bread and water (poor me!) sitting in the sun on top of a wall along the river. Sometimes we watched the water flow by, other times we lifted our eyes to the hills beyond, dotted with villages and cypress trees.

On the way back along the path we ran into (literally) a herd of sheep. For those who don’t know, they are picturesque animals. Soft bundles of wool with big dark eyes and bells around their necks meandering along the path munching on grass while their lambs amble alongside. Too bad they are dumb as a pile of rocks. (I can say this because I grew up on a farm and we raised sheep. I think rocks might in fact be smarter than sheep are.) They see a bike coming toward them and they don’t move. They just look at you and wonder where you came from. You weren’t there a moment ago. Eventually they moved enough for us to get our bikes through and we left the herd behind us as we finished our ride.

And all this before lunch. Can't wait to see what the afternoon brings...

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