I live in a small town I call Mayberry…which can best be described in a song. ♫I’m a little bit country..♫I’m a little bit rock and roll♫ It reminds me of Edward Scissorhands. Remember that one? All the houses kinda look the same, everybody has automatic sprinklers, and the sidewalks are bike and stroller-friendly.
Truthfully, it’s the neighborhood in the burbs I always kind of pined after as a child. My little friends’ sentences always seemed to start with..”We rode our bikes to..and then….”
Because we were country folk, my surroundings lacked the flat, smooth surface that little kids need when they are learning to pedal, balance, and steer a bicycle. Even if I could have ridden any distance, where would I have gone? There was no Tastee Freeze within miles, only fields and fields, and cows.
My Dad, the thoughtful guy he was, bought me a dirt bike. I remember the way the corners of his mouth turned up just a bit when he revealed my gift. I was little, but even then I could read the look the on his face: I’m so proud I found this for you..I hope you love it. Please love it.
And so, I was determined to love it. Whenever I would see Dad out doing chores, or tinkering in his shop, I made a point to ride past. He would smile and wave, and as soon as he wasn’t looking..I would stop, and fall in a disheveled heap. Have you ever ridden a dirt bike? There’s a reason I had the most developed quads and hammies like nothing the world has ever seen on a 6 year- old girl.
My friends were riding around their neighborhoods of manicured lawns, and sidewalks…with their cute little bikes sporting streamers and baskets. I, on the other hand, was struggling on gravel roads with a green dirt bike that had wheels that could fit a monster truck. Stopping every few feet to get my breath.
When my kids started riding around our neighborhood, I felt happy to be giving them something I never had. It was a little area of my childhood that I’d always felt a little cheated in. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my early years. But I also really wanted a purple bike with streamers. That I could easily coast to the Tastee Freeze; without having to stand up and pedal hard.
And, what do I do…now that I’m residing in this civilized neighborhood with pavement and yards I would never let my dog poop on? Sometimes I ride my bike. (It’s purple, but no streamers. I’m still looking for a basket) But usually, I head out to the gravel roads that lay just behind my housing development. (This is the part that’s country, in case you were confused about my reference to Donny and Marie)
I walk on the crunchy gravel, and gaze at the cottonwood trees and fields that remind me of my childhood home. I squint as the occasional and rare truck goes by and fills the air with dust, and watch as our dog, Frodo bounds through the ditches; flushing out birds and sometimes rabbits.
I remember learning to drive on a gravel road, very much like this one. I remember going way too fast around a curve as a teenager on a road just like this and nearly spinning out of control. And I remember trying to ride my bike, that was made for roads just like this one, and wishing for sidewalks.
Now, I only seem to want to go..where the sidewalk ends.
Where the Sidewalk Ends There is a place where the sidewalk ends And before the street begins, And there the grass grows soft and white, And there the sun burns crimson bright, And there the moon-bird rests from his flight To cool in the peppermint wind. Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black And the dark street winds and bends. Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And watch where the chalk-white arrows go To the place where the sidewalk ends. Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go, For the children, they mark, and the children, they know The place where the sidewalk ends. --Shel Silverstein