Alligators Dislike Trikes

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*a non-literary entry, though the experience of the day was pure poetry

Sometimes I can’t help myself from cross-posting entries on my other blog, Wonky Woman On A Bent Trike.  Especially when the posts regard something I’m passion about.  And while I’ll grant you that this post is, in “surface” subject matter, about a ride on a recumbent trike, some alligators and snakes–those things are just a part of the story.  A story about “sorry” not being the only alternative to “safe.”  A story where “safe” and “sorry” are more siamese twins than strangers.

I took my first trip to Brazos Bend State Park in Brazoria County yesterday.  My OH my!  The colors were like something that Pixar had engineered.  The wildlife was verdant, abundant, and so font-row I almost squealed like a little girl several times.

I saw countless birds; a black snake & a copperhead, barely avoiding the former with a front trike wheel and almost stepping upon the latter while maneuvering for a better photo of this alligator.

Turns out, alligators don’t like trikes.  Or at least not the sound they make crunching gravel.  So even if I’d had my camera at the ready, all you’d see in the photos of the other six gators I came upon would be the swish of giant reptilian tails and the over-excited plumes of high-flying plop-splashes back into the depths of the lakes.

(Which, btw, reminds me that I really, really want one of these thing-a-ma-jigs.)  ((One might argue that I actually need one.))

I sighted a red shouldered hawk before I even left the parking area, perched on the amphitheater’s stage as if awaiting his big monologue.  There was a doe with three fawns munching in a wildflowered meadow–much too close to the alligator-and-lilly-pad-filled edges of waterways, if you ask me.  I had that sensation, like when you’re watching a horror movie, and you want to scream out “What are you thinking?  No, NO, NOOO . . . Don’t go into the attic/basement/field/forest/darkened hospital wing . . . For the love of pete, R-U-N!!!”

The great thing about this park on a sunny and hot day is the over thirty miles of trails with great tree cover.  Which is to say, sweet, blessed, heaven-sent shade.  There are well-spaced water fountains and restrooms, with outhouse-style port-o-lets at the far reaches of the more rural trails.  I didn’t see very many people, which was nice.  There were a few couples hiking, two very sweaty (and surprised to encounter a recumbent trike) runners, three family groups; no other cyclists, which surprised me, because these trails are frackin’ gorgeous.  There’re gravel and crushed limestone trails, firmly packed dirt trails, paved wheelchair, scooter & stroller-friendly trails, wooden boardwalks, rutted & muddy root-filled trails for the rough & tumble-seeking mountain bikers.  All of which the Greenspeed Magnum conquered without even batting an eyelash.

And though I didn’t actually encounter the horse & rider, I did notice evidence of them on the trail paralleling the Brazos River.  I would’ve loved to have been on a horse out there yesterday–I miss horseback riding with a grief that tastes more like a loved one missed than a thing I’m not able to do anymore–but I’m grateful to be able to be out on trails at all, and I felt that effusive, delicious, heart-dancing brand of thanksgiving in a keen-bright manner.

The wildlife and flora, the bliss of solitude in the close embrace of mother nature, the anticipatory vigilance of all that the next curve of trail will hold–it’s a giddy, humbling, wide-awake, oxygenated, full-of-awe feeling.  I couldn’t help but think of Phil Keoghan’s motto: No Opportunity Wasted.  I think Phil should come to the great state of Texas and ride some of these opportunity-drenched trails with me.  I bet I could smoke him and his two-wheeler on these twisting treed byways and really give those alligators something to talk about :0)

No Opportunity Wasted was the perfect theme of the day.  Because the truth is that I didn’t want to get out and ride yesterday; I was still pretty sore & fatigued from the weekend’s rides.  But I needed to take my husband to his job in Lake Jackson because he was leaving his vehicle with me while he goes on a work-related road trip.  I’ve been meaning to go check out Brazos Bend State Park, but my ICE Qnt isn’t really outfitted with the proper tires for those kinds of trails.  In spite of how my body felt, I refused to throw away the opportunity of being in close proximity to the park while being in possession of the Greenspeed Magnum (the SUV of recumbent trikes, on loan to me for review).

It would’ve been so easy to settle into the idea that I’d ridden hard and well over the weekend and deserved to rest my aching muscles and joints.  When you have an illness and/or disability, others are quick to tell you to take care of yourself, take it easy, take a break.  You even give yourself the same advice, you know, with that rationalizing, maybe-we-should-play-it-safe part of your brain.   Sometimes it’s good advice, the “better safe than sorry” adage.  As long as you’re not using “safe” as a code word for “easy,” as a way of opting for what’s more comfortable and convenient.   As long as you keep in mind–smack-dab in the front of your mind, hot spotlight shining upon it–this principle of not wasting opportunities.  Whenever you can dang well help it!

Yo, Phil, you know that life list of yours?   Add this amazing Tejas adventure; you won’t regret it.  What could be more fun than out-riding alligators and dodging snakes?

And don’t forget, good readers, sometimes “safe” and “sorry” are more like two faces of a coin that’s worth the same amount no matter which way it lands in the toss; more like interchangeable thesaurus-versions of themselves than cause-and-effect or good advice, much less good medicine ;)  Now go, get out there.  Ride, run, write, explore, create, LIVE.

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About deniselanier

I am an educator & advocate, poet & performer, speaker & storyteller who believes in the power of narrative to transform & transport, create & connect. I was the shy, awkward girl who didn’t fit in, was often bullied, happiest with my nose in books, whose best friend was my dog. After being cast in a play in my teens I discovered a way to be comfortable in my own skin, bringing to life the words of a character. Costumed in make-believe I dared to be more of myself than I ever allowed off-stage; I claimed my voice. I spent most of my adult life teaching others to raise their own voices, through acting, creative writing, even slam poetry. When the diagnosis of MS intervened in my 30s I had to let go of acting, which is why most of my storytelling is now expressed through page and less “formal” interactions with stages. I devote much of my time to kids, teaching them to use words & imagination, developing authentic, resilient, remarkable voices. I endeavor to grow in my students the belief, the truth, that we are all artists & the change-makers in our own stories. My best friend still has fur & four legs. My mobility assistance dog is my constant companion, teaching assistant & muse to many. Luke is also chief partner in crime; I’m getting a reputation for stealing things. As inventor of a poetic form called klepto-collaborative, I pickpocket words & phrases from others, reshuffling & reshaping the puzzle-pieces into a colorful, storied mosaic of diverse voices. Taking something from every speaker at a conference in real-time, I craft a collective poem that highlights the messages of the day, repurposing ideas & refashioning stories, weaving them together in a manner that never loses the originality & spirit of the speakers’ themes. So while I may be a word thief, I figure being eco-conscious makes up for it. I’m available to facilitate wordy goodness in your community, school, workplace or play space. I like to think I have way of transforming annual meetings into something interactive, cooperative & memorable. Through my klepto-collaborative poems I aim to delight, to ignite conversation, and maybe even incite innovation. I earned an MFA from Florida International University, where I edited Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. I’m the founder of WordPlay, a poetry-in-the-schools project inspired by Dave Eggers. My poetry has appeared in Bloomsbury Review, Cake, Luna, Best American Poetry blog (a collaborative poem with the phenomenal Denise Duhamel), Wicked Good Life, and various anthologies. My non-fiction has appeared in the Miami Herald and my fiction has been nominated for Best New American Voices. www.deniselanier.wordpress.com & www.wonkybent.wordpress.com

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