20 November 2010

At Journeys' End

Today seemed chillier than it actually was because of the wind--and a cold and one of those headaches that makes it seem as if a vise was clamping and squeezing at my temples. So I didn't ride.  I hope to feel better tomorrow.

Janine's death hasn't helped my mood much.  Although she wasn't a cyclist herself, she did a nice series (Click onto "Serie des Cyclistes")  of engravings with cyclists as her theme. 

One of the wonderful things about cycling in France is eating at the end of a day's ride.  If you've ever done a long or hard ride, you know that nothing tastes better than that roast chicken, pasta, ear of corn, salad, wine, pastry, fruit or anything you might consume afterward.  That's true even if you're eating in some truck stop off a highway in the middle of some place God seems to have forgotten.  So, imagine how good the bird, the grain, the soup are when your day's ride ends next to a chateau by the Loire--or in Paris.

It was even better when  that meal in Paris at the end of a day of riding was made by Janine.  I've spent enough time in France and eaten enough French cooking not to be impressed by all of it.  But I'll rave about Janine's culinary work.  So do her French friends, with whom I've shared some meals and other good times.

In recalling her, two words came up repeatedly: genereuse and vitale.  As creative and independent as she was, I never had the sense that she was, or felt, alienated from the world in which she lived.  Over time, I slowly came to realize how much the "cowboy" notion of creativity as the product of isolated, alienated individuals had crippled me as well as countless other people, particularly in America. 

For a long time, I rode because I was, or thought I had no choice but to be, that "cowboy."  I don't think Janine ever tried to teach or convince me of anything different.  She simply was a light at the end of those journeys--including the one that brought me from Nick to Justine.

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