Monday, September 17, 2007

Our heroine returns!

Cycling down the A4 this morning, clad in my flourescent-yellow armor -- whose magical, light-bending properties make me impervious to the advances of speeding lorries, over-confident bus-drivers, harried commuters, and road-kill -- I mused over the events of the weekend.

Friday night on the way to the Pirate's i blew a tire. Not just a puncture in the inner-tube -- that is a small matter i have dealth with many times before -- but an actual tire blow-out, where the tire itself split and left an inch-long hole. I was only 2 miles from home and still 24 miles from the Pirate (who was at the archery range doing some standing-still practice), so i stuck a sock between the tire and the tube to protect the tube from gravel and road flotsam and crossed my fingers it would be enough to get me the rest of the way. it was.

Saturday was a bright, blue, beautiful day. We slept in late and made love in the sunshine.

Blue, beautiful day.
(I took this photo of the sunflower fields about half a mile from the Pirate's house.
I did not nick this from teh interwebs.)

First stop was to the bike shop where we procured a new tire for my ride. Next stop was the car shop where we procured shampoo, polish, wax, and chamois cloth for the Pirate's new baby (known henceforth as The Big Car, because referring to it as The Aston is "just too pretentious for words," so sayeth the Pirate).

We got back and set to work at our respective tasks, me repairing my bike, putting the second canteen rack on, adjusting the derailer (which comes out of alignment every 100 miles or so, which for me is about 2 weeks) and generally tightening up things that work themselves lose from the vibrations. Also adding more reflective tape to things. Because one can never have too much reflective tape, can one?

Pirate set to work, whistling all the while, cleaning and shining the wire wheels on The Big Car and making everything sparkle. We admired our work. I put my car away and we climbed in his to go into the village, where we got ground sirloin, buns, and bleu cheese for burgers, and fresh corn and tomatoes at the farm stall. Dinner that night was burgers on the grill, sweetcorn, tomatoes, and beer, and we sat at the table in the back garden was watched the sun sink below the trees.

What struck me over and over again through the course of the day was just how normal it seemed. It was the most natural thing in the world, him playing with his car, me puttering around with my bike, shopping together, I cooked dinner (this is not an endorsement of a patriarchal culture -- I really really really love cooking and Pirate hates it, so this is just one of our divisions of labor: i cook, he cleans. We're both happy with this arrangement. The feminists can stop growling now) and we sat at the table and enjoyed the food, the surroundings, the season, and the company. For that evening I was in paradise, with not a care in the world that needed immediate attention beyond the fact that I overcooked the burgers slightly, and I had a glimpse of what live could (and hopefully will be) like. That's not to say that I expect every evening to be perfect like that one, but there's no reason why some of them can't be.

I proposed a stroll after dinner to aid the digestion and enjoy the last of the dwindling light. Pirate countered with a bike ride, which would do the same but be slightly more vigorous. I readily agreed, and we took a lovely 11k ride around the plateau where he lives, careening around quiet country lanes overlooking the most glorious vistas and valleys, spilled over with the golden evening sun. We picked some late season blackberries and sucked their juice. And anyone who thinks they need an afterlife and 72 virgins or harp-wielding angels to find paradise or true happiness has never been in love, or been loved.

Apricot light; end of day, end of summer.

I'm not trying to say that my life is perfect or better than anyone else's so nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-NYAH or anything. I'm only trying to make the point that the world and our place in it is what we make it, and there's no reason to wait for the next life to be happy; it can be found in the here and now.


Sunday was a cricket day, and dawned clear and blue again. I've seen some of the most picturesque bits of the English countryside from her cricket fields, and yesterday was no exception. The game went well, with the Pirate getting run out at 96 runs. I was gutted. He hasn't had a century all season, and this was the very last game of the summer. I really wanted him to make his ton, but it didn't happen. As it was, it was still his best score of the season, so that was OK, and they won the game. His team mates were still talking about his performance the previous week, where a mighty 6 off his bat sailed over the clubhouse and won the game in the penultimate ball.

The Pirate bowling.
You can just make out red ball (click for bigness) on the left of the pic. He took a wicket with that one. Note for cricketers: as you can see he's bowling right-handed, which means he ran up on the left of the stumps. Look where his feet are. He's not standing on the wrong side of the track; he's more than a foot in the air.

(Better view: the scenic side of The Pirate.)
(and people wonder why I like cricket.)

Toward the end of the match an amazing thing happened: the emergence of the crane flies. Crane flies are nasty, horrible, disgusting things. I don't like them. I acknowledge they have place in the world, but that place is in Pirate's carnivorous plants, not all over my legs and feet.

Exhibit A: one of Pirate's fly traps eating a crane fly. Yummers!

Crane flies lay their eggs in the grass where they become grubs which eat the roots (cricket pitch grass is, i'm told, especially delicious to them) and then emerge from the ground as adults to boink and make more flies. What no one told me is that they emerge all at once.

It was like a fucking Hitchcock movie. There we were sitting on the porch of the pavilion watching the sun set behind the last few overs of the match (which they won thanks to Pirate bowling 3 consecutive maidens and making the rate unacheivable for the opposition), when a lone crane fly crawled up over the wooden step onto the porch and approached my feet. I stepped on it. Then another one came. I stepped on that one too. Soon there were several. The women on the bench beside me started stepping on them. We looked down and there were dozens of them, all walking towards us. Actually, they were being blown gently by the wind, but we were facing square into the wind, so they came straight at us.

Then I looked up. The sun had burst through from behind the clouds creating the most spectacular sunset (also creating impossible condidtions for the poor batsmen), and what I saw next shocked, horrified, and captivated me. The low-angle of the sunlight was glinting off the wings of the crane flies as they emerged from the ground, and the criket pitch sparkled like a snow-field. There were millions of them, glittering and dancing in the sunset. It was at once one of the most beautiful and most disgusting things I have ever seen. I was not able to capture the effect on my camera.

We stopped in the pub across the street with the rest of the team and had dinner. (Chicken, bacon, and leek pies. Mmmm.) before heading home.

After a snuggly night I packed up my things, stuffed them in my sunflower-yellow paniers, and hit the highway, like a bee with giant pollen sacs heading back to the hive.

OOh, I almost forgot to mention: Pirate's boss asked the People In Charge if he could keep Pirate for a few extra months, so he won't be moving at the first of the year as planned. Instead he'll stay where he is (within cycling distance) for an extra three months! YAAAAAAAAY!!!!)


Annie Rhiannon said...

I'm going to start cycling to school this week. It's a 7km ride, and I don't want to get knocked over. I'm actually quite worried about it. Although I guess traffic in Dublin doesn't move any faster than 10km an hour anyway.

Sounds like a great weekend.

Homer said...


But... "the feminists can stop growling"... CB, I'm disappointed in you. I'd have thought you of all people would be one of us!

Geosomin said...

That sounds lovely...except for the buggy part.

Frobisher said...

What a lovely post! quite atmospheric.

Yes it is methylated spirits, just a capful in a bowl of water, put a cloth in, squeeze out, wipe windows and dry/buff with newspaper ;). Your right all shop bought window cleaners are crap.

Dave said...


Lolly said...

Love the photos! 'Specially the apricot glow xxx

Rimshot said...

Yeah, what Lolly said...thanks for sharing those, and the idyll.

Also, yes, YAY for the three month extension. Here's hoping for more!

hendrix said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous weekend, here's to you having many more like that!

First Nations said...

yes, the craneflies are here as well. fortunately this year we've had a garden spider bonus and they're all getting chubby on windblown craneflies. is there any bug more poorly designed for flight?
my darling, i am so glad you're happy and so glad you have extra time with the pirate. this made my day. :)

(NICE pitching form!)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

annie: you can buy things that attach to the back of your bike and stick out a couple feet, thereby forcing traffic to give you a wider berth. ask in your local bike shop.

Homer: yes, I absolutely consider myself a feminist! But there are those among our ranks who look down on women like me -- that genuinely enjoy cooking and want to stay home with kids -- as hurting the cause. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that the women's movement was about equality and choice, and i have as much right to choose to cook for my man as i have to choose to leave the relationship if he doesn't consider me an equal. That is all I meant.

Geo: it was, except for that.

Frobi: thanks for the tip. I'm going to try that!

Dave, Lolly, Rimshot, and Hendrix: thank you.

FN: thanks, hon. (and all his forms are nice, i might add. :-)

Billy said...


*but in a nice way*

*makes stupid Awwwww noises*

Rimshot said...

CB: What sort of camera did you use for the sunflowers picture? You and Annie have these wonderful images and I can't seem to make ANYTHING look decent with a digital camera.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

billy: you have to clean that up yourself man!

rimshot: a 3-year-old Nikon Coolpix 3100. And it's only 3.2 megapixels!