Monday, January 12, 2009

Maybe a pig COULD fly!

Sometimes I feel cursed by living where there's a lot of rain. On the other hand, at least I can ride 98% of the year. A big blessing is that I can be in farm country within a few minutes of leaving home. This time of year I really enjoy the solitude found there. Most people are so deeply entrenched in their frenzied rush to get nowhere fast that they avoid the slow roads that wind around the fields. And that's just how I like it. Elvira and I are getting to know each other better in these quiet surroundings.

One thing I'm finding is that Elvira shows dirt a lot more than Sophie does.

That sparkling Raven Black color is beautiful but takes a lot of work to keep it looking nice. It's a lot like brushing the gorgeous black mare of Grandma's when I was a kid. I suppose it would help if I weren't out riding in all kinds of bad weather and on dirty roads. Then again, what fun would that be? Riding's a lot more satisfying than sitting in a garage looking at a clean bike, don't you agree?

One of my working philosophies is "Not all who wander are lost". It's important to get out of the main current and go explore a slow moving eddy. What better way to do that than on a bike? When I wander I try to move any preconceptions to a place far in the back of my mind. The goal is to be open to whatever presents itself. Sometimes the greatest wonders are hidden by prejudices. Not every ride has a major treasure. Smaller ones abound, though, if we're ready to find them.

Road signs are a source of amusement and thought. Some of the roads are named after families that have worked the surrounding land for generations. I love the sense of history and belonging the current residents must feel. The older I get the more interested I've become in connecting the roots of my past to the present. My children are a large part of that process at the moment. I think it's vital to have a firm grasp of where we've been in order to successfully move towards the future.

Some of the road names have obvious connections to home and hearth.

Here Elvira and I are sitting where Plagmann Drive and Lickskillet Road meet. Lickskillet. One can imagine a farm boy so famished by labor that he has to lick the skillet, too. One would hope that there would have been enough time for the skillet to cool off. We always have to keep an eye on our weird cat. She'll try to lick the barbeque grill as soon as we take it off the coals. The little red devil on my shoulder wants me to let her have at it once. It would be interesting. Mean, but interesting. But I wander again. Back to the skillet. Maybe the contents of the skillet were so delicious that licking the pan was in order. Then again, perhaps it was a pork fat thing.

Speaking of pork fat, I spent some time with a couple of friendly pigs. Farm country isn't too pretty this time of year.

Everything's kind of brown and dark right now. Not to mention really soggy. The bright promise of spring is still a long ways off. Trees stand bare as their former cloak of leaves decay into the land around them. There's nothing to draw people here at the moment. The few residents, man and animal, patiently hunker down waiting for Spring. This is why it's so peaceful here right now. I can park the bike by the side of the road and enjoy the quiet without being disturbed.

It's just as well there wasn't any traffic. Passersby might have had a hard time figuring out why a lone motorcyclist was so interested in pigs. I'll bet most people in a car wouldn't even have noticed the two creatures out by the old barn. I'd pulled Elvira over for a chance to take a few photos. In the meantime, the curious creatures started wandering over to see what was up. I'm sure a visiting motorcyclist wasn't an everyday occurence for them, either.

Why were they drawn to the bike and I? It's a good bet they're being raised by a family. There were just the two animals in the field. This wasn't a commercial operation. Would these two wind up as eventual meals? Probably. In the meantime, there's probably something of a connection between the animals and the keepers. Did these two sense a chance to be fed? Were they curious? Pigs are said to be pretty intelligent. Maybe they just like sleek looking motorcycles. It could possibly have been the bright color on my retroflective vest. Who knows?

Nonetheless, the one nearest the fence and I spent some time snout to nose, as it were.

In a small way this is a lesson in prejudices. How many times have we given in to preconceived notions and missed out on something worthwhile? I'm not saying this creature and I made a deep connection. However, there was intelligence and interest in its eyes. We spent some time just taking each other in. Neither of us can tell the other what we took away from the encounter. I have a feeling it was mostly positive on both sides.

Actually, I sort of identified with this fellow being. I sit a lot. Katie and I have been trying to walk three miles in the evenings. On the other hand, I ride to meetings. Which means I sit on the bike to go somewhere to sit in a meeting. I guess I'm going to have to start parking farther away or something. The extra weight is desirable on the pig. On me, not so much. I just wish Elvira would stop doing that exaggerated groaning when I mount up. Did I mention she has a wicked sense of humor?

I seemed to notice the pig looking pretty longingly at Elvira. Maybe it has dreams of being sleek and fast. So do I, Buddy, so do I. At least I can feel that way on the Yamaha. Hmmm, that makes me think. If pigs could ride sport bikes, maybe they really could fly!

Miles and smiles,



Allen Madding said...

or, perhaps, the two toned pig thought the black sleek bike was a distant relative? :)


Heinz N Frenchie said...

We had a black car once and learned our lesson. Impossible to keep clean and shiny. There was always a streak or two that we missed. The pig was adorable, probably thought you brought something to eat. Maybe you smelled good and that was enough to invite further inspection. Did you have leather on? Wasn't pigskin was it?

Lucky said...

I have a black bike. I don't clean it. Sparkly clean bikes don't get that dusty, western, ZZ-Top look.

It's nice to see farm animals in a pastoral setting. The only farms around here are factory farms. They are visually, aurally and olfactorily disturbing to ride past.

irondad said...

Oink??? Distant relative? Have I been complimented or insulted?

Heinz N Frenchie,
I knew dark blue would be a problem but the black took me by surprise. Oh well.

Maybe the pig likes Brut aftershave. I was wearing Cordura so it probably didn't horrify the animal. Interesting point!

Exactly! You get it. Who wants a garage queen? Neither Elvira or I have long beards, though.

There's plenty of pastoral settings here. It's one of our blessings.

Take care,


Tinker said...

'Hampshire' pigs. (The things you learn from a misspent youth, tending hogs, milking cows, and all that crud.)

We had a pig that could turn on the water hose in her pen and take a drink, go back and turn it off. So, I'd say they are smarter than a dog.

Yes, you can teach a dog to do something like that, but we never tried to teach that pig how to turn on the water. If you were washing down the pen she would come up wanting you to give her the hose.

She went on to the saleyard/butcher with the rest of the pigs in about 10 weeks -- I'm glad I didn't have to watch.

irondad said...

Thanks for the clarification. I like the looks of these pigs. I grew up working a dairy farm. Lots of cows, some horses, no hogs.

The interesting part about the one who would turn on the water is that she would go turn it back off!

fasthair said...

IronDad: I’ll try to keep this one short. You talking to the pigs reminded me of this one ride, while on a trip to the House on the Rocks in Wisconsin with a gal a pal years ago. We’re riding along all of these little back roads when we came up to a gravel road. We stopped to look at my map to see how long this gravel lasted. Seeing that is was only about a mile we went for it. Cresting the little hill brought us down a hill with the trees canopied over the complete road. We relished the site of it slowly going down this hill. At the bottom of the hill was a field full of cows. We stop to enjoy the solitude of the place. A couple of the cows came up to the fence but none would let me touch them. It was just a great time as the cows and I mooed back and forth. My gal pal thought I was just a bit off center after witnessing this.

You talking to the pigs brought that great ride back to my mind.