It started when I was biking down my street towards Kowalski’s, and I passed a young girl, maybe 10 years old, jogging on the sidewalk towards me. I glanced at her but didn’t recognize her, so I looked away, but she lifted her hand and waved to me and gave me a big smile. “Whose kid is that?” I thought to myself, but realized I did not know her at all; she was just being friendly. I think I returned the wave from my bike but resisted it; didn’t your mother teach you not to engage strangers?, I wondered. She was overly friendly, perhaps, but then I’ve come to expect that based on my recent dog walks in the neighborhood—my god, we’re a smiley people! Smiling at perfect strangers, exchanging “Good morning!” greetings as if we’d been friends for years, or making offhand comments as we pass, often to the effect of “What a beautiful dog!” or “Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” Continue reading
It has happened to me on the Mississippi in a single, when a movement in the water catches my eye—a black swirl spinning away from me—and in that moment my heart seems to leap to my throat, as if some water creature might climb out of the depths to the surface. But soon I see it has a mate on the other side spinning away from my boat, and I recognize the pair as the puddles from my own stroke.
I had that feeling again yesterday, though it wasn’t my swirls that jarred me. I was in a men’s quad for this late afternoon row, and the pace was unrelenting and solid. There was a good chop on the water, most likely from the new ferryboat unveiled by the BVG this spring, and it runs on the half hour and ruins your good water for quite a spell. Irregular waves splashed up the side of the boat, ricocheting off the riggers, and the water that struck my back, arms and legs was cold, though nothing like the cold of a Minnesota snowmelt.