Thoughts of Michael
My Kawasaki was the best.
I think I was in grade five when I finally got to ride it alone. My brothers showed me the ropes. Thank-you for that.
There was nothing more freeing in the world than to ride that dirtbike down our private road over familiar bumps and tufts of grass, the fine sand pitting and dipping.
The throttle open wide, head down like Evil Knievel but without a helmet, stupidly.
The black ridged throttle embedding its texture on my tight grip, ready to pull the clutch back to kick it into its top gear. Dust blowing high up into the sky.
I was on a mission.
To the end of the road. Not of life, just the acreage.
That was the initial boundary.
Until it wasn’t.
I pushed. Always, for what I wanted. I don’t think it was long before I just rode free, down our road, then turning left or right and miles again. No kilometres back then, just miles and miles of wide open prairie.
Dust in the teeth.
Crossing the busy highway, stopping at Scotty’s Esso for a bottle of Orange Crush or Rootbeer.
Yeah. Those were the days.
I’d ride over the bell hose.
I would’ve gone over a million times but Scotty might’ve gotten after me with her broom, I’m not sure.
I’m not sure she had a broom, but probably. She probably did.
I swigged back my glass bottle, taking the final sip of orange soda then I was off.
Looking both ways, no helmet. Stupid.
Rocks flying riding over the great plains, the gravel spitting as I pass the Little Red River. Hitting the breaks and skidding a little just for fun.
I stop and pull over and do a quick donut because I can. I continue in circles because I can, creating a pseudo crop-circle on the road. No aliens here this time.
I’m now turned around and I head back to the river bridge. I kill the engine. I look over. The smell of heavily oiled wood, the river is high from spring run off.
It’s high in level, not in feeling. Well maybe both. The oil smell is strong.
This is where I’d go with my friend Kelly to catch a little jack fish, a snake, a Northern Pike to be exact.
Lost so many hooks there, but found myself.
5 of diamonds. Probably not the right hook, full of barbs, too bright, who knows. Didn’t matter.
Reeds grow on the edges like stubble on an old chin. I see a duck flap away happy.
I jump back on my bike. It’s supper time, I better get back before my Mom thinks I’m dead.
She worried a lot, especially since we always refused to wear helmets. Stupid. We got lucky, I guess.
I pull the clutch, flip out the kick start and jump on it. First kick and it’s purring like a growly kitten who’s hungry. I’m hungry too.
Revving it up and releasing the clutch was always fun, making the wheel spit rocks. Those knobby tires got me places.
I cruise down the dirt road, pockets of warm and then cool air. Mosquitos hitting my face. Maybe it was too early for that. Maybe it was other bugs. Lots of bugs.
But that’s ok. The bugs were part of the experience.
Sometimes when I’d get close enough to see my house down the road, I’d kill the engine and roll.
Just roll in silence, the sound of a well oiled chain heard as my dog would come running to greet me. She was always happy to see me.
I’d brake quickly and leave a big skid in the sand, kicking the kickstand and unmounting my gasoline horse.
My trusty steed.
When supper was done, I’d often head out again. Seeking out again and again, that blissful feeling of youthful freedom.
PS. I really ought to thank my Dad for this. If he hadn’t bought it for us, I’m quite sure I’d be a different person than I am.