it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity


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followed me home
sometimes you just can’t take it with you


   on Arbor Day in 1970, i'm pretty certain my parents were not expecting their middle child to bring a shiny bucket home from grade school, especially not a bucket filled with a four foot maple sapling. can i keep it huh? they humored me.

big tree      a few months later my family relocated from Illinois to Nebraska. the tree had remained small enough to bring it along, perhaps because my parents made me keep it in the bucket.
   we planted my maple in our new front yard, where it gripped the unlimited soil tenaciously enough to outlive another tenant, a dutch elm with many decades of seniority.
   after five years, however, we moved to another home, almost a mile away. the maple had grown to perhaps six feet or so, barely small enough to transplant.
   my family eventually abandoned that house to attend schools in other states. i recall the tree in 1980 was anorexic thin, and barely reached to the telephone line.

   today i went back to the house and snuck around back to see the tree. i was strangely proud. hard to imagine that a third grader ever carried this home in a bucket.

the tandem
great minds bike alike


   Deb and i decided that after ten years of marriage it was time for an extended trip together with no one else we knew. so, for Thanksgiving we’re having a second honeymoon on some island that begins with a K in Hawaii. but that’s not important now.
   we thought an extended holiday together might be good practise, and decided on a summer trip to Iowa, for Ragbrai. even though we each bought our respective dream bicycle this spring, (a Kestrel 500 SCi high-performance road bike for Deb, and Vision VR40 USS SWB/LWB recumbent for me) we decided to buy a tandem, a bicycle built for two, to ride across Iowa.
   after the sticker shock wore off, we took a couple test drives and settled on a used Santana Arriva. our qualifications included frame strength, seat adjustability for either of us in both positions, and convenience of purchasing immediately to allow enough time to practise before Ragbrai. the previous owners, pictured, below right, are Dennis and Betty, who now ride kayaks instead of bikes.

   usually the more experienced and stronger cyclist is in front, acting as “the captain.” the captain is the only person who can steer, shift gears, or brake. perfect job for a control freak. i was unwilling to argue with Deb. i’ve seen my blood before. besides, as “stoker,” in the rear, i don’t have to pedal unless Deb is looking.
   they say riding tandem is a true test of compatibility between people.
   “1, 2, 3 start.”
   “upshift please!”
   damn, we’re good. i guess that our communications degrees pay off here, too.
   our tandem rides have been smooth and virtually trouble free, aside from discovered allergies along Coyote Creek in Morgan Hill. my eyes started watering so badly that i could not see to steer! i was SO glad we were on a tandem, or else i would have been stranded with my bike until someone fetched me!
   below, Deb gets practice navigating as part of this captain business. yup, i love the stoker job. all i have to do is ride. and pedal. really, i pedal. really.

   our actual Ragbrai ride is immortalized elsewhere.

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