I know I know, I said that this blog was over didn’t I? Maybe I lied. Whatever. Sue me. I’m an old man. Today I am 57 years old. Am I there yet?
Using up the final few days of my vacation time, the weather was spectacular on the 5th of June, so a nice long bicycle ride was in order. Got an early start- 9:30 am. Guess that’s not really all that early is it?
As is my custom, it’s required that I ride my age in miles on or near the actual birth date. So the 5th was the day for it. It was a great day for wildlife. Scarcely 7 miles from home, in the swamp of Sutton, where the wild blueberries grow, a cute little brown bunny rabbit bolted from the bushes right in front of my bike. Paused for a millisecond, looking at me and my blue Fuji Touring Series VII, said in rabbit-speak “what the hell?!”, then shot across the road. Bunny rabbit’s life came within a foot of my front wheel. Scwewy wabbit.
Continuing north on Route 114, I took the Hominy Pot Road, seeing no less than 4 pairs of women with dogs out for their morning constitutionals. That’s old-timey talk for “going for walkies”. And one old guy, also with his dog.
Crossing Route 11, continuing up Old Main Street, I avoided passing by my workplace, the college, even though there was still a subconscious possible plan to get back there in time for the spectacular lunch being offered in the dining hall. Wednesday menu: flank steak, creamy orzo and many other lovely delectables as our Sodexo staff offer to the Gordon Research conferees every summer. There would not be time for that. Someone had suggested the Route 10 north out of Newport route and that route took root in my birthday brain. I had 57 miles to cover … never make it back to New London in time.
Old Main Street becomes Burpee Hill Road. Aptly named. Many hills. And many lovely homes. Eventually the hills led back to Route 11, George’s Mills, Sunapee, and on to Newport.
Newport was as busy as one would expect for a Wednesday morning around 10. As I passed the Middle-High School, I stopped to use the porta-potty by the track. It was disgusting. But best to empty the bladder before tackling Route 10 up to Croydon and Grantham. Across the road a woman doing some very conscientious pre-run stretches by her car attracted my eye as I exited the porta potty and remounted my bicycle. She was just getting into her rhythm as I passed her with a good morning greeting. What a lovely day it was!
As I passed the airport a truck with a large, complicated-looking white tank on the back passed heavily by me. A few miles up the road, that same truck was parked by a river running by the road. Someone was doing something with the tank thingy. I rode on. That tank truck passed me again. And again I saw it parked by a pond. And again it passed me a little further north. Finally, by Spectacle Pond in Croydon I stopped by the truck to ask what they were doing. A woman was scooping a large net full of something out of the tank. She handed the net to the other guy and he showed me about 50 nice-sized wriggling trout. They were beautiful! I asked him if I could have one. He said “Sure! You can have 5!” as he flung the net-load into the pond. “Go get ‘em!” We all laughed. “See you at the next stop.” I said as I mounted up and rode on. Next time I saw them they had emptied their tanks and I waved to them as they headed back south.
Continuing on up to Grantham I went to see if I could find an old friend at her workplace to see if she’d like to have lunch. She was too busy to take a lunch break, so I went to Pizza Chef on my own and got a veggie wrap with not enough jalapenos on it. If you want a lot of hot peppers you have to ask emphatically.
Route 114’s northern end is right nearby, so I headed south. Somewhere in Springfield, from a little brook just to the right of the road, a great blue heron popped out and took wing, flying a hundred yards or so ahead of me before veering to the left and out of sight. When we (my family) see these birds, we think of storks, and then think of babies. The midwife who delivered our children had the license plate STORK on her car. So that got me thinking that maybe another grandchild will be on the way soon.
I veered off of Route 114 in Springfield, heading over to Route 4A. Down 4A into Wilmot and Kearsarge Valley Road to Sutton, then back to 114 and on home. Just a quarter mile from home, a single, confused deer ran onto the road 50 yards or so ahead of me, then turned back the way it came. Mileage for the day: 68. Mission accomplished.
The title of this post, by the way, references not only the Heinz “57” trademark, but also the TV show Mad Men. Since rejoining Netflix, I’ve managed to consume almost all of the first 5 seasons of this series, set in the USA (Manhattan mostly) of the 1960s. Several friends recommended it, and after the closing episodes of season 1, I was hooked. The excessive smoking and drinking were really getting to me, and I was ready to take it or leave it, but then the flashback scenes of Don’s experience in the Korean War made me commit to the antihero’s plight. Not that Don Draper isn’t any more (or less) of a schmuck than his fellow ad men, he’s certainly carrying a different sort of baggage than most of his colleagues. Or is he?
The ’60s I experienced as a child were indeed the days when everyone smoked and drank and threw trash everywhere. The cars were big, solid and heavy, and the seat belt was nothing more than a parental forearm in yours and sister’s faces in the event of a sudden stop. It’s a pretty good show, capturing the period nicely and re-examining it under the lens of all the history since. I especially like the animated opening montage with its darkly dramatic music, everything coming loose and falling as soon as the Mad Man sets down his briefcase. In season 5 they have spent an awful lot of time and energy trying to land the Heinz account. At episode 9 I’m still not certain that they’ve really got Heinz signed up.