© Another Day in the Country
This summer, my grandson learned to ride a bike in Ramona. It’s the perfect place for it to happen with quiet paved streets and all that flatness that Kansas has to offer.
I had a bucket list of things that I wanted to see happen as I spent this summer with my grandson. Eight years old is such a great age for spending time together. Even though I had some trepidation about what we would do all day when my daughter proposed that I come out for the summer to “watch Dagfinnr,” it turned out great. And, I kept reminding myself that time moves fast and before you know it, the very last thing this kid would want to do is hang out with his grandmother. “Enjoy it whilst ye may,” I said to myself.
Riding a bike without training wheels was on my bucket list, but how to accomplish it? There was no flat ground in the hills of California. Everywhere you look, there are hills with fast moving traffic around every curve. Up on the mountain, outside of St. Helena, there are no such thing as sidewalks, either.
“When we get back to Kansas this summer,” I told my grandson, “you’ll be riding that bike of yours in no time without training wheels.” He really didn’t care if he ever rode a bike without training wheels, he told me. What was the big deal? Most definitely, it wasn’t on his bucket list; but he was really anxious for August to come and getting to see Ramona again.
A couple of years ago, at Christmas, I got Dagfinnr a bike. He calls it his “Kansas Bike.”
Since there was snow on the ground that year of the bike’s arrival, he rode it around in the house — that’s one good thing about a house designed for anyone with handicaps (as was our mother) with wide open spaces.
Once on Kansas soil, my grandson didn’t want those training wheels removed. We didn’t force the issue because we’d learned just how strong-minded this boy was when his Dad had removed the training wheels from his hand-me-down-bike at home and that was the end of bike riding in California.
One evening our cousins came in for supper, and afterward LeeRoy aired up the tires on our old bikes and suggested to Dagfinnr that they go for a ride around town. Off they went, and Jana and I rolled our eyes at each other wondering if LeeRoy would have any luck removing those training wheels.
Maybe fifteen minutes later Dagfinnr was at the door hollering, “You guys, come watch me ride.” Sure enough, he was riding that bike without training wheels, beaming from ear to ear. Triumph! Check that one off the list.
During the rest of their stay, bike rides were the most important thing on that kid’s list of things to do, round and round the blocks they went. Only one of the old bikes was really holding air in its tires, so usually Jana or Jess would go on those jaunts; but one day I decided it was my turn.
I grabbed the bike, pushed back the kickstand, swung my leg up over the middle bar, and landed kersplat in the rose bushes with the bike on top of me! I hadn’t lifted my leg that high for more than five years, I’m sure, when TTT and I used to go riding around town. Being a ‘woman of a certain age,’ everyone was concerned about my welfare. Had I hurt myself? Should I be doing this? Let the younger set take him riding.
Of course, I could ride a bike. Once you’ve learned to ride, it’s with you forever, like walking; but I didn’t push it. It was almost enough for me that this precious child had learned to ride and was so thrilled at the accomplishment. It was the first thing he announced to everyone when he got back to California, “My Uncle LeeRoy taught me to ride a bike.” It’s one of those things he will remember all of his life.
It’s another day in the country and I think I’ll go shopping for one of those step-through bikes like I saw the ladies riding around the Napa Valley, with a little basket on the front for French bread and a bottle of wine.