Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not Dying

There's something refreshing, in a Jack London, man-vs.-nature kind of way, about any commute that has "Don't die," as its primary goal.

This morning, I biked to work, as I often do, feeling quite jaunty about it, since Bailey at the Papillon Bike shop just fixed the brakes and gave it a tune-up. Plus, the heater chose today to start working again, for the first time since October! Added to these pleasures was the civic joy of voting in the Potomac Primaries and getting to wear an "I voted!" sticker on my lapel all day.

Things took a turn for the worse in the afternoon. The sky, a lugubrious gray all day, finally started spitting out ice pellets. Biking home was interesting. The first time I hit the breaks was a physics experiment, something to do with objects in motion wanting to stay in motion, especially when the object in motion is a 1982 peach Miyata road bike with no tread to speak of on an ice-slick sidewalk.

In front of the Harris Teeter, I tested the inverse theorem about objects at rest wanting to stay at rest, after the wheels squirreled out from under me, and I had an opportunity to congratulate God on the thoughtful design of the human posterior.

"Be careful. It's slippery," a passerby said kindly, if a trifle redundantly.
"Are you all right?" asked the fireman in the passing firetruck.
"I'm not hurt," was the best I could come up with.

At this juncture, I found myself in a veritable zambonied ice rink that passed for a sidewalk, so I gave up riding and stuck to walking. There were so many accidents, and the traffic was so congested, I made better time home than the traffic moving up Columbia Pike. The freezing rain glittered in my headlight like bits of ground glass. By the time I made it to my front door, my helmet, my bike, and my clothes, were crusted over with ice like some kind of chilly exoskeleton.

The IJM interns were delayed for dinner and Bible study. It took them over and hour to travel a mile and a half, and the Turkish restaurant where they had ordered dinner closed on account of the weather. My cupboards were as bare as any Mother Hubbard's, except for some arborio rice, a stick of celery, and some not-quite-expired greens, so we had risotto and salad and drank copious amounts of tea to chase away the chill. Thinking it unwise to launch into the study, we instead prayed and headed back into our separate nights, to survive the traffic and the freeze as best we might.

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