Our Pennants are the Swallows [From 43-100]

Autumn Cycling.jpg

“You don’t want to miss anything—not this, at least. The trees are turning gold.”

from BA 43-100

Winter squash have dried on the vine and the days are growing shorter. Autumn discombobulates, disconcerts, disjoints. You wonder why it’s so hard to get up in the morning, and why it’s getting harder to see the soup pot you’re stirring on the stove. Then you begin to question your smarts: hasn’t this happened dozens of times already? Shouldn’t you be used to it by now? You fall back every year.

Pack those questions up and take them on a ride. Take two wheels and disparate parts, a pair of handlebars and a pair of legs. You’ll get a seamless flow, the present moment distilled as it scrolls past. Your thoughts scatter but settle again eventually like black birds on a wire.

The bike ride becomes your guided meditation—le guidon, French for “handlebars,” from guider, to guide—but that leads to le nez dans le guidon, the equivalent of nose to the grindstone. But you don’t want to miss anything—not this, at least. The trees are turning gold.

Then there’s guidon: a “swallow- tailed” flag, a pennant identifying a military unit, or a soldier carrying such a flag to direct the troops. If this is a bicycle army, then where, or who, is our guidon? Perhaps our pennants are the swallows themselves, swirling and diving en masse at dusk. Our fearless leader is any one of our fellow cyclists, quietly humming over dark streets toward home.

So, ride on, Bicycle Army, and remember there’s wisdom in a beginner’s mind. Let your wheels guide you onward, and your handlebars point you in the right direction. We’ll see you back at camp. 

Evan P. Schneider