The definition of ‘wild’ keeps changing

Wild used to mean riding five hours to Tomales and back (80 mi.) , having lunch, then going out a few hours later for a three hour moonlight dirt ramble with Fisher, Koski and the boys. With nothing but a Toklas brownie for dinner.

Thirty years later, wild is  regulary rising to swim an hour (in a pool, a very heated one at that) at 5:30 in the morning, somehow remaining awake until lunch, then riding fifteen exhausting miles in a headwind to Sausalito, where the artist/teacher Craig Coss has promised to show me how to do Easter eggs a la Ukraine….”Pysanky”….he and his wife Michelle used to do them annually in their other city (Seattle) but lost the thread when they moved to Marin.

Weeks ago, I prodded them to show me.  Pysanky is a bit equipment- and technique-intensive.

A heated apartment is intolerably hot after a hilly  ride, so I had to strip, calm down, and borrow Michelle’s dry shirts (I failed to plan for sweaty, clammy clothes). We lit the beeswax candles (look up how toxic ordinary mass-produced candles are, you’ll never want to burn one indoors again) selected a  ‘kistka’ (little brass wax melting pot on a stick, looks like a peace-pipe)  and set to playing with eggs, pencils and patience.

My results were enchantingly naive, allowing me to finish faster than the teacher.

I needed to get going.
“I’ll take you home” said Craig, as his carefully designed egg leapt out of his hands and splatted in the kitchen sink (he decorates them while full–I thought you did it on EMPTY, lightweight eggs, pre-blown out). 

He’d driven me home the last visit. This is kind, but not a habit to encourage, since I still think I’m a wild woman, able to pedal round trips in a single spring day.

Evening was approaching (this was the Thursday after Easter) and there was a bit of ‘spitting’ (I don’t call rain that has big spaces between drops real rain) going on outside their picture window, which gives on the Sausalito waterfront, bay, and Bay Bridge.

“Nah, you’re tired, and I feel pretty jacked after all that squinting and careful wax-drawing–gimme a headlight”

Out came his trusty Niterider, and I was gone in a flash.
They say the flashing light setting saves energy, but I truly wondered if it wasn’t a bit hallucino/seizuregenic, as I observed a half-dozen reflective signs, tail lights of parked cars all jittering back at me as I climbed Horse Hill, where the bike path hews to the scary freeway.

The rain had begun, no more spitting. The asphalt was patent-leather shiny, and all the cars on the other side of the flimsy cyclone fence were surrounded with halos of water, led by twin gold prongs of light.

“Craig was a fool to offer to go out in this” I smugly told myself.

By Corte Madera (on the rain-shadow side of Tamalpais), Larkspur and Ross, I was the only person on the road (no bike paths for much of this bit–they’re under construction). My clothes were re-drenched, and my teeth threatened to chatter. I talked them out of it–forgot to bring my bite guard, thank you Dr Van Peursem!

None of the streets had moving cars on them. Only idiots would attempt to see through this sheeting rain from behind a windshield. My glasses were fogged, so I watched over the tops, rather fuzzily as I carefully rolled home inside my holier-than-thou cloak of biker superiority. I had to run every stop sign because…well, if there are absolutely no cars out, then is it really a crime? Editor’s note: this may not be too clever to relate, since there’s a strong anti-biker sentiment in the mainstream media of late…two peds have been killed by speeding riders in SF.
No one is extemporizing about the two luckless cyclers–father and child–killed while riding (on the sidewalk!) in Concord.

17 year old brat in a SUV of course.


As you reader/riders know, this is just a tragic norm.

Bikers harming others: must be stopped with a bevvy of new, stronger laws.

I feel awful for all these people….I wonder if the teen that killed the little girl in Palo Alto, and didn’t even stop, is out there driving around. She hit the child, kept going, and then went to science class at her high school. Asked her friends if the ding on the car looked incriminating, or over-lookable.      I’ll have to look her up.

It can’t be great to have a death or two under one’s belt–and I wouldn’t be surprised if their well paid attorneys claimed that the remorse would be ‘punishment enough’.  OK, so you know what I think about when I am pedaling home in a driving rainstorm. Nice, soothing massacre scenarios.

My favorite dumpster was a quiet, rain-free haven packed with organic bananas conveniently sistered up by the half dozen, and a bunch of red grapes, and some kind of meat. Veal probably. And organic, grass-fed hamburger from the best non-local (Humboldt) purveyor.
I would be eating in style…but not tonight. Way too pooped.

But I called Craig & Michelle to say I’d arrived.
They had seen some impressive lightning out their window….and were gripped about me getting fried.

“Nah, guys, I’m a pro, remember? I had a blast.”
It was true: I was ‘outdoorphined’ to the hilt.

But my fingers wouldn’t straighten, the clothes had to be wrestled off, and a lake was forming in the kitchen. The bike had her own little lakes, too.

I cleaned, oiled, and rubbed her down, opened up the shoes and took out the insoles.  The hell with a bath.

~ by jacquiephelan on April 15, 2012.

7 Responses to “The definition of ‘wild’ keeps changing”

  1. Another wonderful slice of life post. Thanks Jacquie!

  2. Thanks, Jacquie. I love your writing. Please keep it coming…

  3. You never cease to inspire me to push myself a bit further than I thought possible. Thank you

    Fenders and a good headlight make rainy nite rides doable. A hot mug of “come one at a time soup” that has been slowly gurgling in the “Newt” and a cuppa tea complete another day.

  4. Wow, what a night it was, sounds like an epic ride, definately deserving to share the same blogospace as the full moon jaunts of yesteryear– some of my best riding memories ever. And if memory serves, Mr. Mushroom was also along for the rides with Alice. Gave new meaning to “head”lights…

  5. I had Ukrainian friends when I was a wee lad in L.A. I am presently trying to re-establish contact with them. Apparently they are strongly affiliated with St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church Parish Hall
    345 Seventh St., San Francisco, CA, 94103

  6. No way! I grew up making pysanky every year, and mine mostly looked like yours. My grandmother and mother both made the kind of expert creations you’d expect from native Ukrainians. I also grew up Ukrainian dancing, and attending Ukrainian school on Saturdays and Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Sundays. I’m not strongly associated anymore, but your pysanky brought back strong memories of beeswax and kistkas and dye-stained hands. Hope you got to sample some pascha bread.

    That dumpster sounds rad. Lucky you.

  7. You made me say “Wow.”

    Which is the greatest gift one human can give to another.


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