A river runs through it

A river runs through it but the problem is, I miss a lot of it on a bicycle.

In our Georgia city, the Chattahoochee River divides us from neighboring Alabama. The paved Riverwalk alongside it is a popular spot for exercise and outdoor enthusiasts, in part because of the lack of motor traffic.

I actually got to pay attention to the river today, because when I went to get my bike from my friends’ back porch, the back tire was flat. It was a beautiful day and I was determined to spend at least part of it outside. (Imagine the scene in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” in which the young Capote, flying a kite, says, “I could die with today in my eyes.”)

So I decided to walk.

So many things looked, smelled and felt different at the slower pace. I heard more conversations of passersby. Two joggers were debating the relative merits of citrus drinks versus water. A fisherman on the bank watched patiently over several lines. I yelled down to him to ask if anything were biting. He nodded.

A young couple were teaching their child how to ride a bicycle. A dog walker got tangled temporarily in the leash.

And perhaps the best scene of all: Twenty yards north of the fisherman, a guy in a red suit and black top hat faced the river on a grassy perch while playing a harmonica.

As for the river itself, it was smooth as glass. Most of the time, when I’m riding, I just glance over to see which way the waves are headed. Away from me means a wind advantage. Toward me means it’s in my face.

Today’s slower pace gave me a change in perspective. I don’t have to go fast all the time. I did miss being on my bike today; but I likely would have missed the man with the harmonica, offering a symphony to the birds, the walkers and the river.

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