GRAHAM FIELD
Overland motorcycle travel author, strong desires and infinite dreams

 

You know when you get those equatorial types and the inhabitants of states of permanent sunshine taunting you with their year round t-shirt temperatures as they sit outside watching their sunset (which only rose 12 hours ago)? Knowing full well you will be scraping the ice from you windscreen to leave your house before dawn only to return from work to see it once again in darkness, as the bitter wind rips at your inadequate clothing as numb fingers fumble with the front door key.

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Well now begins the season where us dwellers of more northern parts of the planet get to gloat, because we are about to get our reward for enduring three months of dismal darkened misery. New life is about to be born. With longer days and shorter shadows I feel my entire posture change, no longer curled and cramped to keep out the cold, now, like a spring flower I feel myself opening up. The light is different, the sun is illuminating my world form a different angle. The air has a wholesome flavor, the bird song is back and things beneath my feet are stirring.

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The snowdrops optimistically lead the way, the crocuses jump on the band wagon, the daffodils make an official announcement and the tulips confirm it beyond all doubt.

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Spring is here, take the bike off trickle charge, bush the mold of damp storage from your boots, unzip the thermal liner. The rain has washed street salt down the drains and the likelihood of rust is as far away as October. This is our prize, we are about to witness the long awaited, colors, fragrances, light and new life, the freshest greens, the brightest buds that together fade away the almost unavoidable near nocturnal depression. It becomes nothing but a memory like fallen leaves on a damp driveway. The Sun has been turned up to a level beyond light alone and now sheer pleasure is our reason to ride again.

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I think the deprivation of something makes it all the more appreciated once it returns. Living in Bulgaria not everything is available all the time. Our vegetables have seasonally availability; strawberries for example are looked forwarded to, not just pick off a refrigerated shelf all year round.

I once heard a story back in the 80’s of a Russian woman telling an American how rare it was to find cucumbers in her village. When there was a rumor of availability a queue would form outside the alleged shop of stock. Whilst in line the patient and hopeful buyers would discuss recipes and preparation techniques of the rare green vegetable. The thrill of the purchase, the envy of the others, the enjoyment of meal making and the satisfaction of the consumption.
The American listened to this and with a proud but apologetic response answered, ‘well in America we can walk into any store any time of the day and buy as many cucumbers as we like.

‘And where’s the fun in that?’ answered the Russian woman.

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And there you have it, those riders of seasonless climates don’t know the wondrous thrill of the first warm sunny morning, the sensations of time telling fragrances through an open visor. The 10pm dusk sky or the freshness of an October frost. As they ride through they unchanging environment of brown tired dusty leaves of their tropical fruit bearing vegetation, those shade-seeking riders are the equivalent of the procurers of the 24 hour cucumber. We have to endure the queue, the wait, the application of a seasonal delight, the delayed gratification of removing the thermals.

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Every year I enjoy the spring more than the last, things seem to come to life so fast, I waited so long for this blossom and soon petals are falling faster that the pounds value under an unstable government.

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So ride, breathe, smell, watch, listen, soak your senses in new life as it splats onto your visor, live another year and let in the light of the season. We have tyres to scrub, panniers to pack, tents to pitch on greener grass than the parched people of permanent summer can’t comprehend. Their ripe mangos are no match for out occasional cucumber.