Nabokov, sand and Sir Galahad

I think this one is for you, Dave

Oh that first bicycle,
It’s splendour, it’s height,
‘Dux’ or ‘Poboda’ inscribed on it’s frame,
The quietness of it’s tight tyre!
The wavers and weavers in the green avenue,
Where sun macules glide up one’s wrists
And where the molehills loom black
And threaten one’s downfall!
But next day one skims over them,
And support as in dreamland is lacking
And trusting in this dream simplicity,
The bicycle does not collapse

In contrast to the poet’s infant tricycle, whose thin tyres sank at the mere sight of the sandy garden path ….
And in contrast to the other day, when deep sand got the better of Sir G (who detests it) and had me in quite a temper, today’s sandy challenges went surprisingly well. Since I injured my shoulder earlier this year, sand of all surfaces, my regret at never really quite mastering the skid, and a fear of falling really scares me.
2-3 miles, taken at a gentle walk in wonderful golden sunshine and even daring to mount up from time to time, with a cautious foot trailing in case the rear wheel slewed, I was able to coax Sir G with much more equanimity and patience (due mostly to feeling confident about navigation, for a change, in these circumstances) and we emerged onto asphalt after about an hour’s technically successful negotiation. Checking my whereabouts was delightfully rewarding. Not only was I precisely where I had hoped to be, but with my growing Polish single-word efforts, my route got a “Jesus” in reaction from the lovely farmer’s wife who then clasped my hand and squeezed my biceps and admired my filthy legs! ( the sand is dark grey here and had spread everywhere as well as filling my shoes).
Later on I had a really lovely toothless encounter with a very enthusiastic ancient man, who reassured me that the next stretch would be asphalt. It wasn’t, but as it was only a short distance, it didn’t matter at all, and my prevailing memory is of his sweet mobile face that simply lit up in all directions as we shook hands and he gave thought to my route. His enthusiastic “Do widzenia” quavered out long and loud, several times as we parted.
Once or twice, my nice “Dzien dobry, prosze mi pomóc?” (“Good morning, can you help me?”) has received an unusual glazed expression and the recipient has seemed to want to hurry off. It has slowly dawned on me that this is the standard greeting from someone who has fallen on hard times and is begging. Sort of sad and funny and utterly understandable, but with my hi-viz yellow jacket, map-case, shorts and helmet I would have said that I look more like a cross between a well meaning alien and an overgrown Girl Guide. I suppose that could evoke such a reaction too!
Tonight, thanks to Przemeck’s thoughtfulness, I am a guest of the reformed church in Zelów. I was greeted by a smiling “I am Roman but I am Polish!” and shown up into a lovely room, with kitchen and bathroom but thankfully no evidence of guard dogs or any of the unwelcome nocturnal companions of the other night in Oporów.
I wandered into town and the chemist understood perfectly from my hoarse whisper and medicine-taking mimes exactly what I wanted! I have dosed myself up and am sitting up in bed in true Granny style, with my lovely silk inner sheet multiple-purposing as a bed-jacket.
From my window there was the most deeply vivid sunset… at a shockingly early 7.15pm!
Leaving the lovely Wesołeck family this morning was a wrench, and as soon as I have reduced the volume of content to something manageable [just a description of our hilarious discussions on English grammar, (the Police are always plural but is the Government singular? Etc etc) subjunctive constructions and the horrors of American-English deserves a whole chapter! Are you confused? Sorry about the double brackets which remind me of that wonderful book “Eats shoots and leaves”] I will thoroughly enjoy writing a post about them.
Should you think this is dense, turgid writing, you might try reading Alexander Technique textbooks… (specially for you Przemek) 🙂

Today, though, it was lovely to be back on the bike and out in the countryside again, despite feeling a bit rough round the edges, and I confess to another irrational bout of insane happiness.

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