Disclaimer: I can be a bit of a nostalgic fool.
For proof of that statement, look no farther than under the seat of my mountain bike.
‘Doug’ says the license plate hanging there: ‘Green Mountain State.’
I was nine years old when I got it. I saved ten box tops from Honeycomb Cereal and mailed those in along with a $1.25. The latter being earned from delivering eggs once a week to Lila Onsruth.
Lila paid my parents $1.00 for the eggs and me .25 cents for pedaling them to her house on my bright red Raleigh Chopper.
In hindsight, I should have appreciated Lila’s 25% tip a bit more. Not a sweeter woman has the world known. I hope my thoughts of her now, thirty-eight years later, make up that lack.
Bless you, Lila. Bless you.
It took me a long time to save up that $1.25.
I had to use Lila’s tips for more than a few things. The main being the replenishment of dry flies lost from not knowing how to roll cast.
There is most certainly a Sugar Maple or two at the trout hole on the White River - across from the old Kelton Complex - that is littered with Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears.
Nonetheless, after a few months of not losing flies (and not buying Coca-Cola from Laro’s Country Store), I saved up enough to buy the license plate and watched the mail for weeks waiting for it to be delivered.
Mr. Martin, our mailman, after more than a few disappointing days of me standing at the mailbox in anticipation, shared in my excitement when it finally arrived.
He drove a white Jeep Wagoneer and stopped his day for fifteen minutes to not only celebrate with me the license plate’s arrival but to also help fasten it to my bike.
Zip-ties were not an accessible commodity then but by chance (or design) Mr. Martin did have some small hose clamps that connected the metal loops of the license plate to the frame of the banana seat on my bike.
Bless you Mr. Martin. Bless you.
And there it is.
Ever since that early July day in 1980, after the first cut of hay was in the barn, that license plate has found its way on every bike I have ever owned.
Raleigh Chopper. Kuwahara Apollo. Haro Freestyler. Haro Freesport. Haro Master. Torpado. Trek 520. Specialized Hardrock. Parkpre Scepter Comp, Jamis Dakar Sport, Ritchey NiTi, Trek 850, KHS Solo One, Trek 520, KHS Solo One SE, Salsa Mukluk 3, Salsa Mukluk GX1.
And I have been laughed at and ridiculed because of that license plate. I am now forty-seven after all. And it is a bit strange to see on the bike of a middle-aged man. But I have also been complimented. A lot.
Either way. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. It brings me back. To Lila. To Mr. Martin. And to a thousand (maybe ten thousand) smiles of rides forgotten and also some remembered.
That silly, young-boy’s license plate is simply a connection and a thread. To my childhood. To the innocence there. To the lack of stress. And responsibility. Things that still disappear quickly when I begin to make circles with my feet.
It connects me. From carrying eggs and fly rods to college texts, lesson plans, and my beautiful daughter.
And yes, it also connects me to worries, anxiety, and hard times. But such is life. Such is life.
What will I carry next? What will it connect me to in the future?
I look forward to finding out.
#circleswithmyfeet #salsacycles #vaultpedals #wtb