Yesterday, we reconciled with the Local Gods. We rose early, loaded up our gear, and left Oregon’s Interstate highway system behind. Waiting for us on the other side of the Columbia River was smooth road, sparse traffic, and a nice little tailwind.
An easy forty mile day was unfolding. Nothing but two-lane blacktop all the way to Roosevelt, Washington. On the map it looks tiny. Once there, we found a cafe/store with delicious hamburgers, friendly people, and a campground that wasn’t even listed on our ACA map. An excellent day came to a close with a full moon rising above the Columbia River.
From Alice’s Attic there’s only about 80 miles of county highway to cover. Then, nothing but asphalt all the way to the airport through Minneapolis’ extensive bicycle trail system. We have two full days to do it. After the miles Robert and I have covered, should be like a downhill slide.
Except for one thing. The weather report calls for two days of rain and thunder showers.
We have to be at the airport on Friday morning. At least, Robert does. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be disassembled, boxed up, and shipped back to Denver by then. I know it seems unfair. But, really, I could use a break. I’ve been holding him up by the shorts every day for the last 39 days.
You get the picture.
Can you see the water drops falling off the roof? It’s raining right now!
We have encountered local spirits in every state we’ve crossed. If they like you, they simply don’t want you to leave. And, they generally like us the touring cyclists. We move so slowly across the land.
(I know these things. Daedalus, my namesake, was descended from a line of demigods. One reaching all the way back to Hephaestus and Demeter. She is the goddess of agriculture and the harvest. He’s the god of craftsmen and artists, metals and the forge, and by logical extension, volcanoes.)
Out of Oregon we faced high winds. Idaho, it was brush and forest fires. Exiting Montana I had a broken chain. A flat tire on the way out of North Dakota. Now, two days of rain.
Robert’s the one with the opposable thumbs. I do hope he finds a way to appease the local gods.
Wings have the power to elevate; not just the pilot, but the reader and the onlooker too. Writers, artists, and poets have inspired with these images since the beginnings of time and art. The ancient Greeks provided us with the archetypal story of the first flight. From high school Mythology class I knew the first flyer as Icarus,”the boy with wings who flew too close to the sun.” I could feel that the same fire within me.
That myth remains forever modern – singing its song of independence, freedom, and sometimes the tragic vigor of youth.
Icarus was fortunate in one regard.His wings were a gift from his father, a famous inventor/scientist named Daedalus. And, even if the father’s warning was ineffective…the one about not flying too high…Icarus clearly had his father’s blessing. Which brings us to the heart of this blog post.
For me, high school was in Northeastern Ohio. It was 1970, a time and place in which law and culture coalesced to pressure all young men into college, the military, or jail. On a Monday morning in May and just a few miles down the road from my high school, four students were shot and killed at Kent State University. Nine were wounded. The bullets were fired…not by Islamic extremists…but by members of our community, heavily armed and wearing US Army uniforms. It was my first mass casualty event. I would graduate in June.
Two years later the military draft became a lottery. Blessed with a high number, I dropped out of college and took to the metaphorical skies. It would be my emancipation…from dependent youth into free thinking and independent man...a year of traveling throughout Europe and the Mediterranean by thumb and backpack, falling in love, and beginning the research that would l inspire and inform my writing and my parenting. The wings that carried me aloft and into that journey were a gift; one given to myself. Selfish? Perhaps, but I assert that young men instinctively look to their elders for guidance on how best to emancipate. The window is short. Parents
The inherent weakness of the gun model for emancipation is the one size fits all approach. Too many lonely young men foolishly mistake guns for their own budding manhood, get angry, and fire away at peers and teachers in public school settings. In my lifetime the list of mass casualty events has grown far too long. As a father with grown children, I strongly recommend the wing builder option. It’s highly individualized, much less destructive than gunfire, and time honored for empowering the heart and soul of a youth.
Wings have always been meant for flying in the light and warmth of the sun.
For more about the story of Icarus and Daedalus, I recommend a page-turning reinterpretation of the first flight: Icarus and the Wing Builder. https://goo.gl/EkySso