Friday, April 18, 2008

April 11th: Day 4--My Chariot Is A Tractor

Stopped in Martinsville, IL at the P.O. to mail off a letter of gratitude to Joyce and LeRoy. Saw my first spring flowers.

The smell and sound of a factory hard at work filled Martinsville's air. Asked the postal clerk "what-iz-it" borrowing the phrase from the little Black kid who wondered what my bike was on Day 1. He said the factory made counter weights for those huge industrial cranes. Sounds like an important contribution, I said. "Yep, they do quite the business, shipping them all over the world."

Martinsville, IL is on the map.

Friday was a gift of dry, and sun with a promise of warmth, such a blessing after rain and cold for the first 3 days. I was nearly giddy. Even stopped for lunch at Taco Bell in Robinson, IL to be served by Cynthia who proudly wore a 12 year service pin. I asked for 3 veggie tacos and she absolutely froze in her tracks. "You want what?" 3 veggie tacos. "We don't have veggie tacos". Can I just have 3 tacos with beans and guacamole? No cheese, no meat, no sour cream. "Oh, OK. I'll have to charge you for the guacamole, but I won't charge you for no meat." OK, whatever.

20 miles from Vincennes I'm in Birds, IL, a village of 51 people, made up of 22 households, and 13 families. Median family income is $25,000. I'm fast approaching the Wabash River and I'm beginning to wonder, and maybe worry a little, whether the roads will be flooded given the torrential rains of the last days. Some interesting conversations with 4 of the 51 people of Birds who frankly aren't much help. So, I pedal on deciding, "It will be what it will be". And then it was.

The road was flooded. I rode up to water's edge and heard the voice of warning echoing in my head, "never enter when flooded." I sit down; take off my cycling shoes, and put on my Crocs. Decide I will enter the flooded area anyhow, carefully shuffling along carrying one of my panniers. If this works, I'll make 2 more portages across the 50 yards of flooded road. Mid-way across, I bust out laughing at myself. "Susan, this is not a river. This is a cornfield. There are no currents in cornfields." Phew, glad I had this profound insight.

Got to the far side of the flooded road, put down my pannier, stood up and there before my wondering eyes did appear a John Deere Tractor with a front loader piloted by Bill. "Need some help?" What kind of help did you have in mind? "Well, I think I can put your bike in my front loader and the rest of your gear on the back of my tractor and get you safely across." I actually pinched myself to see if this was real. Seemed like I had just climbed into the pages of the old testament, or something.

So Bill and I rode across the flooded road, loaded my bike and gear, and me by his side, and off we rode to the east side of the flood zone. Bill just happened to be on his way home from helping a friend landscape his yard. This was his way home. Valerie's words rang again--"God's Timing."

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