Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodnight, Irene. Good day, August.

We made out all right. A lot of people didn't. Forty-six people (so far) died in the storm. The rest of us survived, and some probably disdained it afterwards as not much of a hurricane. A considerable number suffered the effects of flooding, power failure, fallen trees and large branches. We who didn't suffer much more than a boring Sunday indoors brandished what we could as proofs: "There was a tree that fell at the Broadway end of Allen Street. I didn't see it. The DPW guys hauled it away pretty soon afterward." You move on because that's what we're wired to do. If you survived and were not impeded, you go shopping, watch a baseball game, write a blog about all of the above. Take your survivor's guilt with a bottle of Izze and knock on wood.


*


I was going to write about a good day, which I stumbled upon briefly last week, before the storm. It was one of these days that merge summer with fall. The tiredness in the leaves suddenly reinterpreted with a surmising breeze.

A good day is a kind of persistent daily myth. We're bidden to have it by waitresses and cashiers and bank tellers as if we're each embarking on our own private folktale and need this verbal amulet (Y'all have a good day) against trolls, ogres, and jabberwocks. It's occasionally celebrated in song, like Paul McCartney's edenic mantra, "Good Day, Sunshine" or earlier, that old pop standard, "It's a Good Day," which Peggy Lee wrote (who knew?), the one where she, or Perry Como, encourages the sun to rise and shine. We seldom have a good day like that, but it's frequently possible to find pieces of a good day in your path, which are good to pick up and collect, like beach glass.


My good day began with a good decision: to conquer my laziness and pump up the tires of my bike to the 35psi rock-hardness that a good bike deserves. Feeling uncharacteristically competent, well-situated, and fortunate that I didn't have a flat tire--far from it!--I continued on to the bike path that runs along Spy Pond and invites riders of sufficient mettle to go as far as Bedford to the west or Somerville the other way. I took the westward turn and there by the path was this guy I'd seen before: an itinerant bike mechanic who had a mobile bench set up and one of those stanchions for hoisting a bike like a patient in a chair. I pedalled on by, for what need had I? But then I thought, and slowed, and stopped, and turned around, and went back. For I did have a need. My bike wouldn't change gears to the big sprocket, the one where you work the hardest, thus confining me to pedalling that was too rapid and too loose for a velocipedant such as myself. Having already done my bike some good, I was well-poised to do it better. The bike mechanic, Tim by name, labored over my Univega for a good twenty minutes. I tried it out. Success! Ten bucks and a two buck tip. On I went. Through Arlington Center, past the Uncle Sam statue (the real guy, not the symbolic guy), and all the other landmarks: the old Brigham's ice cream factory, the high school, the Dept. of Public Works. Pulling in at The Bike Stop, secure in the knowledge that my bike was in good repair, needing only a cold drink. 


Realizing I was in the midst of a good day (vaguely aware that it had something to do with bicycles) I sat down on one of the plastic chairs under the trees with my can of pomegranate Polar Seltzer. I extracted a pad from my backpack. "A good day," I wrote, as if I were an expert, "should have the following ingredients:
1. An expenditure of worthwhile effort (e.g. work, play, art, repair, volunteering, writing, exercise)
2. A mind-engaging period of input (reading, music, conversation)
3. A pleasant surprise or serendipity, either external or internal (i.e., a good idea)"


I needed a mnemonic. Effort, input, surprise. E – I – Oh.


Did my day qualify? I put air in the tires, I filled six flashlights with batteries in advance of Irene, I wrote this; I half-listened to the radio while doing a reasonably hard crossword puzzle; and a pleasant surprise: the bike repair dude. 

A final observation: "What goes well with Polar Seltzer? Oral pretzels."











1 comment:

  1. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master

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