Among the enduring memories of my childhood is finally being allowed to ride my bike to Haymount Elementary School from our neighborhood, maybe a mile away.
    I was in the fourth grade and extremely proud of my new bike, which I had received for Christmas that year. Every other child in our neighborhood had also received a bike. All the girls’ models were identical, as were the boys’. We all thought that Santa had directed the elves to make them all the same as a special treat just for us. I later learned that the coincidence stemmed from the fact that one of the fathers in the neighborhood had an importing business and bought them all at the same time and that all the daddies had stayed up together on Christmas Eve putting all those bikes together.
    We rode to school as a group, but I still remember the exhilaration of that freedom of being on my own, or at least thinking I was. I remember the wind blowing against my face and the sense that I could ride anywhere in the whole world, if my parents would only let me.
    {mosimage}I still love to ride a bike and have actually taken a couple of cycling vacations, which is probably why the high price of gasoline tempts me to use a bike more and more often. The problem is biking in an urban, even in a suburban, setting can be dangerous. Our community, like thousands of others throughout our nation, is not biking-friendly, not intentionally, but because we have never planned for it. We have precious few biking trails, nor do we have wide outside lanes to accommodate bikes. Our major arteries are crowded, especially during rush hours, and our paved surfaces can be a bit bumpy for bicycles.
   All of this adds up to some scary rides for bikers brave enough to try to pedal to work or to go about their daily routines. 
    Some cities, however, are really trying to welcome cyclists. Portland, Ore., comes to mind as a haven for bikes with a 260-mile network of biking trails. In Boulder, Colo., 95 percent of the streets have special bike lanes or bike trails, and in Davis, Calif., about 17 percent of the workforce pedals to the job.
    We are a long way from any of that, of course, but as we plan for future area transportation I hope we will keep cycling in mind as one option. This is a long term issue, but so is our energy problem and the high prices which come with it. Cycling is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it is quiet, healthy, low cost and efficient.
And, oh my word! That wonderful sense of freedom and possibilities that carry us back to childhood.
    More on Matrimony
    The Dicksons have been to another wedding. 
    The latest was a decidedly casual affair on one of North Carolina’s lovely ocean beaches. Unlike more formal occasions, these guests were comfortable in shorts and sun dresses. The bride wore a wedding gown over bare and sandy feet, and the groom was in his shirt sleeves. After the ceremony, we all retired to a beach club for refreshments, dancing and good cheer, and to wish the young couple well before he departed for the additional military training that may very well land him on foreign soil in coming months, while she remains at home for a few more weeks.
    As we have attended the various weddings this spring and summer — large ones and small ones, formal ones and barefoot on the beach ones, ones with chardonnay and shrimp and ones with barbecue and coleslaw — I have been struck by the common thread in all of them. Each of these young couples is committed to building a life together and excited about the prospect of doing so. Each of them has eyes only for the other, and I hope each of them stays side by side until death do them part, although I know that for some that will not be the case. But for now, each of them is just as married as all the rest of us old married folks.
    The Dicksons next wedding is in September, and the invitation looks like there might be some shrimp on the menu.

    A Service I Hope You Never Need
S    everal weeks ago in a column about domestic violence, I mentioned the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County where I volunteered for many years. My old chum, Sharon Hux, who continues to be active with RCVCC, reminded me that there is a new office location at 109 Hay St. downtown. The phone number is (910) 485 7273. I hope neither you nor anyone you care for will ever need its services, but RCVCC has been a blessing for many people who have needed their counseling and care.

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