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A Love Letter to Autumn in Indiana
I usually don’t take requests, mostly because nobody makes any (except for the credit card companies requesting me to pay up immediately, if not sooner). This week, though, I am pulling something from the archives because some readers remembered it from six years ago and have asked, over the last few weeks, if I would run it again.
Bend my arm, why don’t you? All right. Here it is, my love letter to an Indiana autumn, from 2003:
Occasionally I am asked why I ride a motorcycle nearly everywhere, practically all year long. I usually choose from among the following smart-aleck answers:
1. The city of Indianapolis looks askance at the idea of me going around town on a tractor.
2. My truck has been in the shop for the last 48 months.
3. Because it makes me look extracool. Especially in January.
The other day, however, I came to know the real reason I ride a motorcycle.
It was one of those glorious fall days that make Indiana special. Let’s face it, this state never finishes near the top in the scenery polls. Looking for rockbound coasts, sweeping grandeur, purple mountains’ majesty? Look elsewhere.
Oh, we have the Dunes in Northern Indiana, and the hills in Southern Indiana, and if endless, flat fields of corn and beans are your idea of something sweepingly grand, we have plenty of those in the middle. But it’s not the sort of scenery the travel magazines get all worked up about. For some reason, they seem to prefer places like the Grand Canyon. Go figure.
Too bad. They should check out this place in autumn - specifically, mid-October. Then I think my state is as pretty as it gets. The blue of the sky becomes richer, deeper. The sunlight is golden. And the trees show all the shades of red and orange and yellow you can imagine.
This is what I found arrayed before me as I rode my bike east on Ind. 14 from North Manchester to Fort Wayne.
Now, Ind. 14 is not one of those classic motorcycle-excursion highways. Its curves are few and modest; its hills are gentle. It’s not the sort of highway that challenges your riding skills and leaves you’re a wrung-out, sweaty mess at the end of the trip.
Instead, it takes your through farmland which, in October, is working through the transition from summer to winter. Ears of corn and pods of beans hang heavy on their stalks. Woodlots are a riot of turning leaves. In the small towns, the houses are neat, the yards clean. Jacko-lanterns appear on doorsteps. Mums grace the flowerbeds.
I rode through it marveling at the beauty. The beauty, I should say, and the rightness of it. It was just as Indiana should be in mid-October.
I came to a stop. I could hear the wind rustling through the corn. The breeze carried with it the scent of burning leaves. And I realized that people in the cars that had been zipping past me all afternoon were just driving through it. Like the ad says: On a motorcycle, I was in it.
The way it felt on a glorious October afternoon is why I ride.
I just hope I remember it in January, when I’m out there freezing my buns off because the truck’s still in the shop.
© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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