LUND--I bought a bicycle today and in ways it feels for the first time like I have arrived, joined the ranks of peddling Scandinavians, but more than that it feels like freedom. There is a boyish excitement in owning a shiny new bike. I haven't had a new bike in 25 years or a little more. That one was a dark red Nishiki 12 speed racing bike that I got through my Scout Troop. We all worked for and got matching bikes and then went on an incredible, cross-country trip through the California Redwoods to the Oregon border. My first bike was a bright yellow Peugot 10 speed that my father found and fixed for me, taught me to ride and led me on adventures.
This bike, as yet formally named, is a used Crescent 3 Speed thumb-shift. The previous owner repainted the frame a glossy black. The fenders and handlebars are chrome. It has a generator powered head-light and a little bell you operate by deftly spinning. It has a new seat and a new chain, a front-wheel hand brake and a rear-wheel back-peddle brake.
I think of the book 016 gave me to read once, "A Boy's Life," literature I would call American Magic Realism. The character has a bike that, to him, is magic as all bikes should be to all boys. It takes him on all the adventures of boyhood, it is friend and race car, fighter plane and transport to places farther than foot can carry in the time one has free.
I imagine, right now, the same for myself and for the Black Beauty beside me as I sit in the square and write this. On her I can fly through the Swedish countryside, think about the farther fjords of Norway or the nearby plains of Denmark. And if, someday, I become too restless, I can just coast downhill from here to Capetown, end of the line. Unless I take a left in Lichtenstein that is...