The best things in my life are non-digital. My knitting needles, my spinning wheel and my fountain pen use no screens, no electricity or bandwidth.
For literally years, I've been stalking Craigslist in search of a bicycle. What could be simpler, or more lovely than just riding a bicycle? Wind in my hair, air in my tires, and not a care in the world. Not just any bicycle would do, of course; it had to fulfill an unreasonably long list of criteria, some of which are:
Not too expensive (harder than you'd think, even on Craigslist)
Not too sporty (if I have to wear a bicycle/clown outfit, forget it)
Not too beat up (my pride outweighs my mechanical skills)
No derailleurs (the source of much frustration when I rode as a kid)
Room for Knitting (obviously)
And it had to have some degree of charm; a je ne sais quoi that I would only know when I saw it. A Goldilocksian fantasy. No wonder I looked for years.
I did loads of research about what bicycles can (and can't) do nowadays. And living in Portland, the self-christened Bicycle City of the USA, there is no shortage of places to see and talk about bikes. I narrowed it down to about four different options that I thought would be good, and searched the used bike listings compulsively regularly. I was pretty sure that I would end up rebuilding an old English 3-speed, which both excited and nauseated me. It would be fun to learn about, but time-consuming and cumulatively expensive. And of course, there's always the chance that you'll need a part that hasn't been made in 50 years, so a relentless pursuit of weird little pieces looked inevitable.
And then one day last winter I found her:
She was unceremoniously sold to me after her owner fell off her, after less than a year of ownership. A practically new, modern bike with an eight-speed internal hub and nice, modern brakes. She wasn't as pretty at the time as she is here. Her fall had left her covered in mud and scratches. Although there wasn't any real damage, her prior owner had assumed the scratches were deep and permanent. She was mine for less than half the price of a new bike.
Back at home, I carefully buffed out all her scratches, lovingly waxed her frame and lubed her chain. I named her Nilla, for her ice-cream color. For Christmas I got her the beautiful basket she's sporting. Lindsay and I found the Dutch stretchy-bands for her rear rack at a boutique bike store one rainy afternoon, which we followed with a real Portland-style food cart lunch.
I've been practicing with her a little all winter, as the weather would permit (not much). I'm a little bit wobbly, not having had a bike since about age 12, but it's nothing too scary, so far. I live in a great neighborhood for riding, so I can stick close to home until my skills and endurance improve. Today after lunch I decided to take Nilla to the park. First I packed the necessities:
Once there, I found a comfy spot and noticed that the Oregon Grape (bonus points if you know it's the State Flower of Oregon) are in bloom:
And I worked on a sock:
A plain Vanilla sock, as a mater of fact, which makes it just about perfect for today.
My next goal for Nilla is to procure a lock, so I can take her places where I might actually leave her side.
Yarn shop, perhaps?
You hereby have my permission to do something Analog today. Leave the phone somewhere, unplug the laptop, and take yourself outside. Crack a book, drink some tea with lemon, and knit for a while. It's good for you. And if you are lucky enough to have a bicycle in your life, dust her off and go for a spin.