At last – my first post-surgery bike commute to work. I feel like I’ve crossed a major threshold to full healing. I’m still not lifting much weight with my right arm, but I managed to carry my commuting bike down the stairs with my left hand and had the joy of reuniting with it after a 10 week separation.
The weather was a perfect 48 degrees, the sun was shining, and I greeted once-familiar sights like old friends: the flat curves on the Custis Trail that bisect the duck pond and the steep hairpin curves that end behind Big Wheel Bikes; the slender, sad-looking man that I think of as the ghost of the Custis Trail, who seems always to be walking there – no matter the weather, day, or time; the steady stream of pedestrians on the approach to Rosslyn; the ride along the Potomac on the Mount Vernon Trail, the arc of clouds crossing the river with me as I ride over Memorial Bridge; wheeling past the White House, happy to have Obama there for four more years; and, of course, the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track – lights timed just right.
And there were new sights to appreciate: freshly resurfaced sections of the Custis, making me remember last winter’s detours for repaving; a new curb cut on the Mount Vernon so that it’s no longer necessary to make two sharp 90 degree turns by the bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island. But the morning’s highlight was the geese: a multitude of Canada geese were gathered on the National Mall honking noisily, some with long necks reaching upward, others elegantly curved toward the ground, in search of food; some languidly paddling in the water of the reflecting pool, others fluffing out their feathers or preening.
During this winter of rehab, I’ve been feeling fat, lazy, and confined – missing my usual activity level and the boost of well-being I count on my bike for. But, just like yoga (which I tell my prodigal students will always be there for them when they return), the bike was there all along, patiently waiting for me to feel ready to hop on and ride…all the way to work. Spring is nearly here, and, at least today, I’m optimistic that my old self will bloom along with the daffodils.