In the lull between school and G.I. Bill applications and the upcoming semester, I’ve got some time on my hands to enjoy the surrounding countryside. Here, the land is mostly flat with moderate hills every so often. It is an ideal place to ride a bike for those who don’t enjoy the extra work required of inclines (me).
The other day, upon returning from the base, I encountered some road construction and decided to circumvent it via a route I normally do not take. This led me to another road (as most roads do) that was for non-motorized vehicles only, something that is actually very common here. Taking advantage of this, and the day’s pleasant weather, I decided to venture down it and see where it came out, or if it did at all.
The road turned to gravel a few meters from the start and traveled up into the farmland, cleaving two varieties of crops. Halfway up, there was a rustic wooden bench and a small shrine, shaded under a couple of trees. These wayside shrines are all over this part of the country, along roads, in the middle of fields, behind buildings and houses. They range from unornamented crosses, to detailed icons and crucifixes, to altars fully-enclosed in small chapels, like the one below:
I sat for a moment taking in the sunshine and pleasantries before climbing back onto the bicycle and rambling on. I passed brick barns in various states of disrepair, many still being used in spite of their obvious structural distress. This reminded me of Grant Petersen’s term beausage, or the appreciation of something’s looks based upon its regular use; many of these buildings have been in service since before the Second World War.
I’ve also been caught in the rain a couple times. I haven’t decided yet what the best strategy is yet for bicycling in a downpour; I think a rain cape makes sense, but I don’t see anyone wearing one. I have a set of military surplus rain gear, but it is bulky to bring along on everyday rides. Oftentimes, I see people just getting wet, but maybe they are on their way home and can just change into dry clothes then. In the meantime, I’ve taken to finding a nearby tree.
So, that is that. For now.
- Bicyclist Abroad