Natick to Brookline, on a hot day


Another full day today! It was indeed hot and sticky, as predicted. But the ride from Natick to Brookline was beautiful, thanks to the suggestion of Krista and Ray in Natick to go out of my way to get on the Charles River Bike Path. This path is one of the most beautiful I have encountered on this journey so far, which is really saying something. I appreciated the abundant shade and benches along the way, on such a toasty day.

I did run into one snafu, and it was an opportunity for me to practice gratitude for magical timing and the kindness (and strength!) of strangers:

I was biking along the Mass Central Rail Trail, as Google Maps had instructed me to do. All was going well: it was paved and easy to follow, if not very shaded for much of the length of it.

Then suddenly, I was confronted by an unexpected and thoroughly intimidating sight: an old rail bridge, in extreme disrepair. There was a rough and kind of steep gravel incline to reach it, as the trail’s pavement abruptly ended. I could see that after climbing the gravel, the path would be too narrow to roll my rig: the trailer would be too wide for the rails. Furthermore, there was a “middle rail” that was too tall for the trailer to straddle.

Wow. What to do?? (For that matter, what would lie on the the other side? What if I somehow strained my way across the bridge, and then came upon something equally or even more impassable on the other side? Then I’d have to reverse the process.) It was 85 degrees, in direct sun. Ugh!

Amazingly, just a few moments before I encountered this obstacle, I had passed three athletic-looking friends walking and chatting on the path. As I stood there assessing my options (turn around and find another way? Take apart my entire assemblage and carry it piecemeal across the bridge, hoping and trusting that I’d be able to reassemble it and carry on on the other side?) the three of them reached me. The man—tall and strong-looking—asked if I’d like him to help me carry the rig across the bridge.

I was very grateful, but a bit hesitant to take him up on it. I didn’t want to ask such a big favor… and to be honest, I wasn’t even sure if he and I would be able to do it together. The rig is so heavy and bulky.

He insisted that he could lift it, so I agreed.

And he did! We kept the bike and trailer connected. I picked up the bike and carried it in front, while he lifted the (72-pound) trailer from behind, and walked behind me carrying it.

It felt like a long way across the bridge, but we made it without having to stop or put it down. I saw that the other side—after a rough spot where we had to carry the rig over some uneven rails—was indeed passable, if not pleasant: it was a narrow dirt path with lots of grass growing in and around it. (I reminded myself to be thankful it hadn’t recently rained.)

I thanked the man profusely, and continued on my way.

There was one more snag, though: after I had pedaled just about a hundred yards, I felt a thud. I looked back, and one of the wheels had fallen off the trailer!

What? I didn’t know that was possible. I was rather concerned, but I dismounted and unhooked the trailer from the bike. I examined the wheel, sitting by itself next to the now-lopsided trailer. The wheel seemed OK. I put it back into its slot in the trailer, and everything seemed to look and feel sound. I counted my blessings that it had happened on a quiet dirt path rather than, say, in a crowded intersection or on a busy road.

The man and his friends caught up to me as I was reattaching it.

“I hope I didn’t cause that,” he said.

I was sure he hadn’t, although I still wasn’t sure how it happened. Maybe something about how the two of us had carried it…?

Anyway, I continued on without incident; I think it’s all OK now.

I soon reached the Charles River Trail, and that’s when everything got extra beautiful.

After several more miles, I made it into Brookline, and was met by my new host Dan at his high-rise apartment building. He welcomed me in and showed me the balcony, where at his invitation I rested and dozed in the hammock for about half an hour, overlooking the city.

Afterward, we went out walking to my favorite Boston-area chain, Life Alive, so that I could enjoy the Green Goddess Bowl! Along the way, I was flabbergasted to see a huge turkey strolling along the sidewalk. Dan told me that this is not uncommon for the neighborhood. Wow!

For dessert, we walked about another mile over to FoMu, the local vegan ice-cream-and-pastries chain, and I got a brownie and a “magic bar.” We walked past Fenway Park, which was mobbed with Red Sox fans since a game was about to start.

Dan then took me to a beautiful “secret garden” in a nearby park, where I ate the brownie on a bench as dusk fell around the rhododendrons.

We returned home and got into a deep and lively spiritual conversation about my journey this year.

So much magic in this world… on this journey… in us all…

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