Monday, August 4, 2008

Thunderstorms and musings on the car free life


We had ferocious thunderstorms tonight, complete with tornado warnings. In fact, I can still see flashes off in the distance of lightening far away, with the faint rumbling of thunder. Luckily, the tornado warnings came to naught, at least around here. I did discover just how loud the local tornado siren is though. We're literally across the street from it. This is how loud it is- it hurt my ears, even with all the windows shut. It drove my poor little cat frantic to the point where she was running all over our condo, looking for some place to hide from it. Oh, and we lost power for about two hours, starting while I was making dinner. Luckily, we have a gas stove, so I was able to continue cooking, once I got out our emergency camping lantern. Every once in a while, I think about wanting one of those new induction electric stoves with the smooth top, for easy cleaning. But then something like this happens and I come to my senses.

But earlier in the evening, before I had started dinner, I had been sewing. More on what I'm making later, but as sometimes happens, I ran out of thread. White thread. How did that happen? It always seems like I've got about eleventy billion spools of white thread floating around the house. Normally, I just would have hopped on the bike and ridden the two or so miles to Hancock. It's not a far ride, nor particularly difficult. There's one super busy street to cross and one parking lot I go through where you have to watch out for cars not looking where they're going. But it had been raining all day, more or less. It was raining then. The sky was looking threatening, though I hadn't heard of the tornado warnings yet. It didn't seem like a great idea to head out into bad weather, not when it was an optional thing. Oh, and it was about twenty minutes until the store closed.

At that moment, I had one of those thoughts. I get them very rarely. It was the "if only I had a car" thought. If only I'd had a car, I would have hopped into it right then and gone off to get my thread. You don't think a lot about the weather when you have a car, or at least not until it gets pretty extreme. As it is, I didn't finish my project tonight because I didn't have a car. Which isn't to say I'm complaining about this. I wouldn't have been able to finish my project anyway, most likely, because of the power outage. Though if I had that thread, I would be sewing now, instead of blogging.

But, it made me think- was it necessarily a bad thing that I'm having to delay my project a little?

I was about to plunge right into a rolled and machine sewn hem. This delay gives me a chance to think about other options. Do I want to see if I can find some matching fabric and make a bias binding instead? What about some other form of trim as an edging. Instead of going to Hancock's, tomorrow after work, I could take the time and make a trip to Vogue Fabrics, a bigger and better fabric store.

Not having a car prevented me from having something I wanted right then. Is it always such a good thing to have what we want right now. I recall reading somewhere a while back that the secret to success and happiness, according to some psychology researchers, is the ability to defer gratification, at least for a while. Perhaps, if I did have a car, I could have convinced myself that no, I didn't need to go right away, but one thing I discovered during the period where we were "car light", before we went totally car free, is that when you have a car, it becomes very tempting to use it. Very hard to say no to just a few little trips.

I could go on about carbon footprints and how much money we save by not having a car (hundreds a month, even without a car payment), but the truth is, I love not having a car because it allows me to live life more at my own speed. I get nervous going too fast. It always feels like a little bit of my soul gets left behind and takes a while to catch up to me. I get scared about the danger, going as fast as a car can go.

But more than anything, I can be car free because I love my bike. I've always loved bikes since I was a little girl. A bike is freedom, to me. I'm taken back to childhood, when it seemed a miracle that I could move that fast, that far. Back then, a bike could take me away from my house, to the library, to the fabric store (I learned to sew at a fairly young age), to the lake where I could stare for hours at the reflection of the sky in the still waters. Even now, I can remember those feelings as I pedal.

The picture above is my bike, which is a Country Road Bob, single speed, by Van Dessel Cycles, with a custom paint job in Tiffany blue, with a pearlescent overlay. I had the drops replaced with a mustache handlebar and the stem raised about as far as it could go, to give me as upright a posture as possible on the bike.

The storm is picking up again. I'd better wrap this up and put it up, just in case I loose power again. Lord, what an evening. I've never seen weather like this.

1 comment:

angeljoy said...

I would love to use a bicycle more. With gas prices being what they are, I considered riding a bike to work everyday (maybe 3 ish miles?) Unfortunately, our town is not geared toward bikers and I would be riding on main highways. Also, I have to look professional at work, (no heels or anything) so I can't arrive being all sweaty. In our hundred degree heat, I'd definitely be sweaty! Our town in spread out just enough to make a bicycle a challenge. Add a small child to the mix and well, I guess I'm keeping the car.
What do you do about longer trips away from home or vacations?