The event for the evening, under the farmer's market canopy, was the First Annual Ann Arbor Bicycle-Commuitng Bash. where a king and queen of commuter-bicycling were going to be crowned. After a competition involving four women and three men, the king and queen were crowned. As near as I could tell, the woman who got to wear the queen's crown was elected on the basis of her being able to twirl a toy baton while riding one-handed on her bicycle. The man selected as king impressed everyone by asking his two children to vacate the cart that was fastened behind his bicycle in order for him to do a hand stand in it. That received a lot of well-deserved applause. My only regret was that my son-in-law, Bob, and his brother-in-law, Tom, who live near Denver and ride their bicycles to work every day, weren't with me. They would have won the competition hands down by solving quadratic equations while balancing on their bicycles.
When the excitement over the crowning of bicycle-commuting royalty had subsided, a warm, bespectacled woman with her hair in a bun invited me to join in a drum circle. Chairs had been placed in a circle, and in front of each chair was a drum. The leader of the circle would beat a rhythm and the rest of us--young children along with a septuagenarian like me--would follow her lead and create a joyful sound. This was a bittersweet moment as it brought back memories of a weekend camp that Gwen and I had attended shortly after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. As part of the weekend we participated in a drum circle like the one I participated in tonight. Gwen liked it a lot, and when Gwen liked something a lot it was a dead certainty that it would soon be featured at a family gathering. Recently, while engaging in my seemingly endless task of organizing and de-cluttering my life, I came across a CD of drum rhythms that Gwen had convinced me to buy, and the drum sticks are are still on the fireplace hearth. My participation in the drum circle tonight reminded me to attempt to institute a drum circle as part of our next family gathering.
When I returned to Zingerman's to pick up my sandwich I was reminded of Gwen's graduation from nursing school, when Casimir and Bertha, her dad and mom, paid us a visit. As was always the case when we entertained visitors from the hinterlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a visit to Zingerman's was a must. Casimir, a. k. a. Barney, couldn't be convinced to try one of the famous ruben sandwiches, but he did order a hot dog and cup of coffee. I knew what was going to happen next: when it came time to pay for our meal; Barney would insist on paying, and I would simply ignore his request and pay it myself. He reluctantly acquiesced to my demand to pick up the tab, and, try as I might, I wasn't able to keep him from taking a peek at the itemized bill. "Five dollars for a goddam hot dog and a cup of coffee," he bellowed, "I used to work all day in the mine for five dollars!" "Please, please," I prayed, "make the hot dog as good as Zingerman's claims it is--and the coffee even better" As always, Bertha came to the rescue, and told Barney in no uncertain terms that he should be thankful that her daughter was in such high estate that she could afford to spend five dollars for a hot dog and cup of coffee. "Just be thankful that you have something to fill your belly," she said. After grumbling a bit, Barney filled his hot dog bun with onions, slathered on some mustard and enjoyed his hot dog. He even grudgingly conceded that the coffee was petty good, though not as good as the coffee he carried in his thermos to the mine each day. Today's pleasant May evening was made even more special by this fond memory.
Dear, as I recalled special remembrances of what at the time were seemingly ordinary events, I am grateful for all we had and shared--we were blessed in so many ways.