We hit a major milestone this weekend. We officially have big-girl bikers! We haven’t hit the pavement yet, but they are riding laps around the backyard with ease. I guess that’s one benefit to having hard-packed river sand and scrub covering the majority of your backyard. I’m very disappointed to admit I missed “the moment”. Since I’ve been doing the Riverside Arts Market every Saturday, DH has had more time with the girls and has been practicing with them, and while I was sitting in my booth about 2pm Saturday afternoon, they were riding laps around the backyard unassisted for the first time. DH called to tell me. When I got home, they demonstrated for me so I could take pictures. Olivia, being the camera ham she is, was content to ride at least a dozen laps so I could get more and more pictures. Sarah chose to only do two laps and determined that with her glowing natural beauty, that should be sufficient to capture a stunning photo. She then put her skirt back on and pulled her ladybug chair over next to mine to watch Livvie ride.
I couldn’t resist aging these pictures. Watching the girls brought back memories of me learning to ride my bike and the series of black and white pictures my dad took of me. We lived in a big apartment complex in Miami at the time. My mom worked full time as a nurse while my dad worked odd jobs and went to school. We didn’t have much money, but I do have many good memories of that time. That’s when my dad and I grew up together. It’s funny how pictures do that for you. A memory can be lost to time, only to resurface in perfect focus when an old picture crops up to remind you. My bike was bright blue with a white seat and red, white and blue streamers coming off the handlebars. After I outgrew that bike, I got the classic “banana seat” bike, appropriately yellow. Until my parents divorced, I spent nearly a month every summer in Orange Park with my Nana and Granddaddy, and that yellow banana seat bike took me everywhere.
Most of the kids in Nana’s neighborhood were boys, so the tomboy in me grew to full fruition in those days. There was a big hill near Nana’s house and we’d fly down that hill with all we had, always with one of the gang at the bottom of the hill watching for cars. If no cars were coming, that’s when we knew we could safely keep on flying, past Maria's house, right over Capella Lane and on down to the dead end at the bottom of the hill. There was more than one occasion early on when I got the warning that a car was coming and hit my brakes in a panic, tumbling head over butt in an endo (though apparently not much has changed since I’ve been known to do that on my mountain bike these days as well). That bike took me to the creek back behind Nana’s house and down to the end of the neighborhood to the swimming hole back in the woods…forbidden territory that Nana knew nothing about (or so I thought). I’ll drive back through that neighborhood every now and then when I’m in Orange Park, and the memories of those days are so clear I can still feel the cold water of the swimming hole. I see us all…me, Ricky, Gary, Eddie, Ted, and every once in a while Maria and Sheila…climbing up that oak tree and jumping off its branches into the center of the hole, never worried about what might lie beneath, what might lie beyond, or what might face us the next day. That was childhood at its best. No worries, just fun. What’s your favorite childhood memory?