Thursday, July 5, 2012
Picnic Kabuki and Literal Legs
At noon, several women at picnic stay in the shade. It's sunny, and the heat will bear down on any lateral skin surface: heads, palms, kneecaps, calf ledges, or neck napes. They escape from it. They protect themselves. I watch as they apply sunscreen like wedding-cake ganache. In the end, they are Kabuki cyclists. Silent, they sit amid wedges of watermelon and dark cherries, awaiting some call to the daylight drama of the bike. There is a group of men of a certain age, old enough to have adult children, on the cusp of retirement or semi-retirement, who are riding with us across the country. They are tough, as is their skin, which has a tawny, jerky-like sheen. They strike me as modern-day cowboys on wheels. I watch them ride, thinking they will all fall behind, but on the steepest hills they charge up steady on their carbon-framed steeds. Cyclists say these men have "legs," not the "sea legs" of sailors, mind you, who learn to recalibrate their balance amid the uncertainty of the ocean. Their legs are more than sturdy; they are solid, thick, and heavy. Their legs are literal -- built up over years from by the rise and pitch of each hill. I imagine if I dissect one, Damian Hirst-style, I could count the rings of their years.