I am a nostalgic fool, though less so than I used to be. I sometimes find myself lost in the past, glorifying it, deifying it, lamenting it, deconstructing it. And really, most memories are all pretty wonderful in their own way. Or lousy. Or happy, or sad. Either way, I guess you could say that I’m in love with experience–and the act of recalling it. (Most writers are this way, I suspect. For after all, we write what we know, what we’ve tucked away in our brains.)
That said, I miss the summer of 2010.
It was a great summer. Personally, I spent lots of time with my family, with my girls, my father, my sister and her family, with my cousins, my wife. I got to see my little sister graduate from University of Rochester, the same school I (barely) graduated from. I got a personal after-hours tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I wrote a fair amount. I rode a bunch.
And on those rides, I got incrementally better. I got a glimpse of what it’s like to be in superfine shape–which recalled those moments at U of R, when I ran on the track and cross country team, those few meets and practices when it felt like I could run forever–fast and forever.
This summer, I avoided crashing in terrifically aggravating and painful ways. I cruised over sections of trail that used to stymie and scare the crap out of me. While on the trails, I saw, in no particular order:
- Snow (in late July)
- A gigantic brown bear (no lie)
For some reason, the bear is a signifier of something: Large. Quiet. Gorgeous. Unafraid. The endless charge of time, maybe.
I was riding on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside the town of Grand Lake, completely alone. The bear stared at me for several moments, though I never met her gaze. (Why a she? Who knows. It just seems to fit.) There were the few traumatic seconds where she stepped sideways, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to charge, or what, but then she slowly turned away, her gigantic rump covered in sandy chocolate brown fur. She disappeared into a green meadow, and I never saw her again.
But I still remember her. As I will always remember the summer of 2010.
In perhaps related fashion, here’s a great poem about a bear, from Galway Kinnell.