Sunday, March 17, 2013

Winter of Discontent

Now is the winter of our discontent,
made glorious summer by this sun of York
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried

Taken from a ride this Saturday
These are Shakespeare's opening lines from Richard III.  Often mistaken for being depressing, the lines actually refer to a turning of the tide--a light at the end of the tunnel if you will.

The phrase "winter of discontent" has two strongholds on me at this moment.  First, as I write this post, I am supposed to be biking/eating/drinking in Majorca, Spain.  It was, however, not meant to be.  I won't go into the ridiculous details, except to say American Airlines is now on my shitlist.  But I digress.  The winter of 1838-1839 found Fredric Chopin and his lover George Sand living in Valldemossa, Majorca--nearby the town I would have been staying--in the Carthusian monastery.  They called their time spent there the "winter of discontent" due to not connecting with the locals and the damp, cold weather.  George Sand went on to write A Winter in Majorca afterwards.  I, however, was hoping to find contentedness in Majorca as well as a much needed reprieve from a never ending Wisconsin winter (the high temperatures this week will be in the twenties--twenty degrees below normal).

The other stronghold goes back to the Shakespeare verse.  Coming back from the airport, with my head hanging low and my pilot light extinguished, I found myself completely defeated.  The nasty grip of depression settled right into my body, mind and soul with no signs of loosening--not unlike the cold, dreary days in Madison right now.  Only one other time in my life did I feel this low.

After "checking out" for several days, my loving friends decided enough was enough.  A rope was thrust into my hands, and pulling me from the pit resumed.  Although I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel at the time, I did realize how lucky I was/am.  I have to thank Martha for her ideas and excursion to the River Alliance film festival where I got to see this fantastic short film, Nathan for great beer mixed with Archer and dub step, Stephen for his calm presence and a kick-ass cycling video which inspired me to get out and ride and Michael for just understanding as well as a hug.  So it is my friends that made the verse ring true.

This was taken last year on St.Patricks day...notice the difference?

Trying to extinguish thoughts of Spain, yesterday found me on my first road ride of the season--aside from commuting and urban spinning.  I'll be honest, the weather was crap.  32 degrees, windy and cloudy with a few flurries.  Last year I already had cyclist tan lines by this time.  I didn't want to ride but two looming gravel events this spring forced me to get out.  As I approached a large hill at the half way point, I was treated to a heard of roughly twenty-five deer crossing my path.  Shortly after, a flock of sand hill cranes flew above me.  My feet were numb, I was already stiff and tired, however, a smile graced my face.  There is a reason for everything.  And for now, I am keeping my eyes pried open in hopes to see the reasons I am here...and not there.

Me and Martha heading out on an urban ride--notice our green bikes for St. Patricks day!

Nearing the end of my first road ride of the season on my "new" gravel steed

“And now that we have returned to the desultory life of the plain, let us endeavor to import a little of that mountain grandeur into it. We will remember within what walls we lie, and understand that this level life too has its summit, and why from the mountain-top the deepest valleys have a tinge of blue; that there is elevation in every hour, as no part of the earth is so low that the heavens may not be seen from, and we have only to stand on the summit of our hour to command an uninterrupted horizon.” 

-Henry David Thoreau

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