Saturday, September 22, 2007

going to the college

Going to the college has become the phrase the kids most like to hear lately. It means that we're saddling up the bikes and headed over to the nearby campus of Eastern Oregon University to ride about on its network of wide smooth sidewalks. Recently we've been doing some off road maneuvers on the landscaped berms that rise up here and there.

Tess and Colm are becoming more and more adventurous in their riding, and more exhibitionist too. I often here them calling me or each other to look and I'll turn round and see one of them riding with one hand up in the hair, or two feet splayed out, or their butts up in the air off the seat.

Rather impulsively I showed them riding with no hands and then had to watch rather nervously while Colm pondered the possibilities of duplicating that feat on the move, loosening his grip ever so slightly and for a nanosecnd opening his hands before he swiftly regrasped the handlebars.
The inevitable consequence of all this daring is the occasional crack-up. It's a foregone conclusion that each time we go out, someone is going to take a spill, and most often it's Colm. He's become pretty inured to the spectacle of crashing, a few whimpers here and there, sometimes none at all, and he's back up and at it. Tess too is earning her stripes, though she is much less stoic about hitting the ground.
The campus is especially inviting in September being largely empty. It is a lovely place with beautiful trees and landscaping. The kids really let their imaginations run riot there. They ride into little planted copses, stash their bikes and pretend to be fairy princes and princesses hiding from the mean guy (yours truly). I play along riding about searching for them. They sneak up to my bike and steal my water bottle and my pump and run away to hide them in their fairy castle.
On one of our recent visits, I pointed to the campus security rig (a little pick-up truck) parked on a sidewalk and I told them that it belonged to a troll who wore kahki pants and a blue shirt and whose job it was to capture fairies and lock them up. They walked warily up to the truck and finding it empty stood there awhile. When the security guard appeared a few yards away coming towards them, they ran away and hid, delighted to have another foe to plot against. I don't think the guy had the slightest idea that he was involved in anything more than his usual rounds.
In an effort to recover my water bottle and pump more quickly I posed a new game to the kids.

"Pretend that you are adventurors," I said to them. "And I am an old blind man."
"What do we do?" said Tess.
"Someone has taken my magic pump and my bottle of invisible water."
"We did!" said Colm.
"I don't think so. They were silly little fairies that took them and you..." I pointed to both of them, "You are both brave adventurors. I'm an old blind man who needs your help. Will you help me Adventurors?"
"Yeah!" They stood there smiling but not moving. Obviously they needed one more cue.
"Find the magic pump! Bring me the invisibile water! Can you do it Adventurors?"
"Yeah!" This time they ran off.
When they came back, I thanked them profusely and then I offered to take them to a special place. "Do you like ice cream?" They screamed yes. "I know a place, le pays de bonbons where there is ice cream, but to get there you must be able to ride a bike."
"I know how," said Tess. "So does Colm."
"Up and down hills?"
"Uh huh."
"Over speed bumps?"
"We go over speed bumps," said Colm.
"Let's go then." I get on my bike. Tess pauses.
"You're blind. You can't ride a bike."
"Not without this." I hold up my pump. "With my magic pump I can put magic air into my tires. My wheels will know the way to go."
The kids and I then rode a few blocks down to the pays de bonbons, a local hamburger drive-in joint, Nell's-N-Out. We had chocolate and strawberry icecream cones, giving each other tastes of our cones and admiring the changing shapes of the melting ice cream.

At length, it was time to make the trek home. I designated Tess as the leader and she picked our route home. The next time Colm would get to do it. In all we were out for a couple of hours.
Going to the college....almost as fun as going to college.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I love this story- it reminds me of the stories you made up for Tim and me when we were little. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: You are the greatest storyteller of all time! I love you, Dad!

11:33 AM  

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