We rode our bikes 35 kilometers along the Damme canal from Bruges to Sluis. This canal was the literal artery of trade from the 12th to the 15th century, carrying goods from the large shipping port in the Netherlands to the very heart of finance and commerce in Bruges.
We rode from country to country basking in the landscape and came upon two older women riding their bikes. The three of us rode together, grandmother, mother and stranger keeping a calm, luxurious cadence that filled me.
I never rode my bike with my grandmother or mother. I don't even know if either of them ever owned a bike. And time and diabetes and endometrial cancer have taken these two women from my path. And a bike ride would not have saved them or made either of these matriarchs more powerful then they were. But along that Damme canal, I witnessed the timeless beauty of the bicycle. This simple, brilliant machine, built seamlessly into the culture, brought together generations to share in the simple act of living.
It is a simple gift . . . time. And I am happy to hope that it is one I will share with current and coming generations. Time between handlebars, in beautiful landscapes with nothing but calm, luxurious cadence and conversation to interrupt the birdsong.