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Monday, July 4, 2011

Gladys Hits Overdrive on the 4th…

Patriotic garden

Independence Day, 2011. The 4th of July, the day folks get the most bang for their buck. A year ago today Gladys and I wheeled our way to the Werkhovens’ cornfields: Corn knee high by the 4th of July? We checked it out and the corn measured up. This morning we’re on the same mission. Corn went in the ground very late this year and I had my doubts. The corn has tried its best so far, but today the stalks come up short—as I suspected. Again, Gladys was the benchmark. Last year’s measurement: a good four or five inches above her axles; this year, not quite up to the hubs. It’s been that kind of year.Corn comes up shortOn down the road past the Werkhoven compound which again looks like a State Park campground this time of year. Folks easing into the holiday, sitting in lawn chairs, enjoying each other’s company and the nice weather. I stop for a Fourth of July visit with Kelly Bolles and Judy and their cat Mr. Johnny Cat, who except for a pink nose could be the spittin’ image of our own Mr. B. Bolles’ Organic Farms is in the flush of strawberry season. Kelly said it was a zoo around there last Friday. Judy shows me a photo of the line of berry pickers’ cars. There is strawberry frenzy in the Valley these days. Tualco strawberries…nothing sweeter. Between the Werkhovens and Bolles that stretch of the Valley looked like an auto sales lot.

We continue along the Lower Loop Road where I notice what looked at first like a waterfall cascading down the grassy bank below Steve Werkhoven’s house. Turned out to be a plastic waterfall, a homemade slip n’ slide made from a plastic silage wrap. And there was the water hose at its head.Silage slip 'n slide I remember how much fun our daughter, the cousins and neighbor kids had on our yard slip n’ slide—and that was on a level lawn, too.

Far up the road is another cyclist and  we are surprised to see we’re actually gaining ground on him! He’s the real thing, too: colors, spandex, helmet, gear sprockets galore, a bona fide Valley alien. The race is joined

I can feel Gladys’s pulse begin to quicken. There’s a dance or two left in the old gal yet! It’s the 4th of July and she’s up for an Independence Day race.

As the gap closes, Gladys reaches for her inner reserves, surges forward. I can feel my shirt flap in the breeze and my cap starts to lift on my head. The fence posts are just a blur now as we rocket along.Closin'the Gap

That red shirt is a target for Gladys and spurs her forward. She’s in the stretch and forgets all about second gear. Overdrive kicks in. The old wooden bridge is our finish line and Gladys stretches for all she’s worth. A final burst of speed and it’s all over. Gladys, the old filly thoroughbred, has placed in the money…and by at least a length and a half, too! No photo finish for our ride!Down the Stretch!“On your left!” I shout as we zip by. They are sweet, sweet words and even if I never say them again, I said them once. And Gladys heard me!

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  1. I get a sense of accomplishment every time I get to shout "on your left!", too :) Gladys is beautiful by the way!

  2. Thanks, R-Bee. Of course no lady thinks she's beautiful, no matter how many times you tell her. I will pass along your comment to Gladys, though; it will make her day.

  3. I have to know...did you ring her bell as you shouted?? :)

  4. No ringie dingies. Gladys was on a mission. I didn't want to distract her