Headed back home on the last leg of a long ride,
I considered taking the easier route
with a smooth, wide shoulder and no hills
but I love the way the boulders spill into the creek
and the way the trees tangle along that bed
where the low bluffs form to the east
and so I headed south on the old road.
I pedaled past a half-frozen pond
hidden in the edge of the woods
while the low sun strobed through the branches.
Even though my back ached a bit
and my legs were giving me fits
I was pretty sure I could push my way
up one more hill and still be able to walk the next day.
From the top of that half-mile rise
I saw miles of the Kansas Flint Hills spreading their
winter tones underneath the bright dome of a clear blue sky.
From there it was over a mile of easy-sloping ride
with prairie grass pastures rippling away on one side
and the scrub oak and deep cuts forming the bluffs on the other
then giving way to the wide flat of the Walnut River Valley.
It was a bit longer to ride that road
and an upward bend at the end of a long day
is definitely not the easiest way.
But I have found that seeking a gentle beauty
that follows the way of peace in the quiet hours
can ease the aches of the road-worn soul
and bring a gentle soothing that lasts longer than the journey.