ODE ON SOLITUDE
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
Solitude has much been on my mind of late and I suppose has been reflected to some degree in the photographs I make. I believe there is a measure of psychology available through the pictures one makes. I came across the poem by Alexander Pope and was struck by the simplicity I seek through solitude and by extension through riding.
An early breakfast in Bellefonte at the Café on the Park, a favorite, offered a quiet place to eat and read the paper before going to work. While I have no herds or fields supplying me with milk and bread I imagine the café as just a few simple steps away. A lot of years have passed since Pope wrote his poem.
I sat at the counter, something I seldom do. Looking at the place I found it more like an old general store than a restaurant. It has it’s own unique charm and I’m glad I found it.
The ride yesterday morning was cold enough that I had to stop to put the liner in my First Gear Kilimanjaro IV riding jacket to be comfortable. At 64 degrees I’m a wuss. Looking at the Vespa parked between Interstate 99 passing overhead I’m reminded of how small and insignificant the scooter is on the road. I left with a renewed sense of rider responsibility.
I learned what benthic invertebrates are while photographing two scientists working in Spring Creek. This big gravel lot used to be the site of the McCoy Dam near Milesburg, Pennsylvania before it was torn out a few years ago to allow Spring Creek to return to it’s natural flow. The two women at the van were pulling on their waders to begin sampling in the creek which flows on the right. They’ve been studying how the ecosystems restore themselves after a big disturbance like the removal of a dam. As a value-added educational feature of Scooter in the Sticks I’ll let you research the meaning of benthic invertebrates. (grin)
Quiet by day,
On roads like this there is ample supply of quiet both for the ear and the eye. It surprises me at times how I continue to be drawn to these places.
At the end of the day at the southern end of the valley I found myself in another quiet place. Visually at least. While making this photograph a large truck full of liquid manure pulled in to begin spreading it’s nutrient goodness on an open field behind me. Something I’ve learned is you don’t want to cross paths with a working manure truck.
While the day was full of work it also provided more lessons in solitude. I know many riders abhor being alone on the road choosing travel to pig roasts and poker runs and the socialization that follows. Maybe I’ll learn to appreciate those events someday. For now I still find value in the sweet recreation of solitude on the road.