Monday, August 08, 2005

The Night Rider

From Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, lines 43-48:
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

'Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore

-Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven,
'Nevermore.'

I like to ride my bike late at night in the summer. Last night I rode for almost 2 hours, from 10:30 to 12:30 am, which was a little longer than usual. I love to ride late at night, when it's cooler, everything has slowed down, and there is mystery in the air. It is a different world at night, a world that many of us have been told is a time that is fearful or perhaps even dangerous. Although these things can be true, it is also a time of adventure, of discovery, and of fascination. Last night the crescent moon stood next to Venus, just as with the Islamic symbol of the star and the crescent. I could see why those of old would have been enraptured by such a beautiful combination.

My nickname when I ride at night is the Raven. I like this name. The way I got it is that, several years ago, while riding through a fairly deserted grocery store parking lot one night, I happened upon a used pickup truck parked in the lot with a For Sale sign on it. I was interested, so I silently swooped in for a closer look. I read all of the info, silently swooped away from the truck, and then resumed on my way again. I later described this event for a friend of mine, with all of the relevant details: the cool night, the swooping in and then away, and so forth. My friend then said to me, "Do you know who you are? You are the Raven!". I though about that, and then said back to him, "You know what, I am the Raven.". I have been the Raven ever since, when I ride my bike late at night.

I remember a time when working in an office downdown, and the subject of bikes came up. A girl in the office heard me talking about this, and she said, "You ride a bike?", to which I responded with something like "Oh, Yeah!" or, "You better believe it!", "Born to Ride", or something smart like that. She was pretty impressed; apparently she was into the whole biker thing, and as the conversation went on, she eventually inquired as to whether I rode a Harley, Honda, or what type of motorbike. I had to let her down gently by saying that I rode more like a Schwinn, or Magna, or Trek. Her interest deflated almost immediately, like a punctured balloon. I could have let the air out even more rapidly, by saying that I also liked the little bell on my bike, as well as the little flower basket in the front, but I did not (and I don't - have those things on my bike!).

Last night as I made my way back home from my night ride, I took a shortcut through the local park, with its large lake shimmering in the blackness, reflecting in it the city's lights and its tall illuminated buildings. In the park I ran into one of my old pals - a little fox, whom I'm sure was one of the pack which had been living on our property earlier in the spring. I have had interactions with foxes over the last several years, as they have dug a birthing den under a building where I live, and they now return each spring to giver birth to a new set of kits. I have pictures and all (film pictures) of my little friends, and will sometime post more on my experiences with them at my home (which is in urban metro Denver, making this all the more surprising). This little fox now probably has a new den in the park, or elsewhere in the neighborhood, and he was out last night trolling about for things to eat, finding a lot of trash, but seemingly nothing really that good or edible. Two of his little buddies soon showed up , and so the three (and me) roamed about together for a while, as I watched them looking for things to eat. His two buddies soon ran into a black & white cat on a sidewalk, and kind of sniffed at the cat a little bit, then they just kept moving along their way (although the younger one did lower his head and check out the cat somewhat hesitantly). The cat never moved, he just sat there, looking at them, as if saying, "What's Up?". I 've noticed over time that cats and foxes have a surprisingly friendly relationship, while that is not the case at all between dogs and foxes (both canines); dogs always want to get a hold of any 'ol fox, anytime, anywhere, but those guys always seem to turn out to be way too smart for 'em! After a while of hanging around and searching about, my little pals decided to go on about their own way, and so too then did I.

So if then, on some late night, on a dark lamplit street under a rising moon, a dark swooshing sound seems to pass you by, it might very well be the Raven, riding through the Night's dark and lovely pathways; you can just never know!

10 Comments:

Blogger willowtree said...

That was an entertaining read! I cant believe you ride around with foxes...at night, like it's nothing.
I cant believe that you ride around at night either but, hey if you can handle it, no problem. It is more mysterious, and you definitely see more at night. I just like to be inside of something when Im observing. Like a car where you can speed away or a house- where you can duck and hide.
You cant be the directly across male version of me. The directly across male version of me would be terrified of animals, hasnt been on a bike since....hmmmm 1990. And when night time comes, he'd be inside somewhere. Like in between walls of some sort. You must be the diagonal male version of me.
Im a chicken, Im not afraid to admit that, and let me tell you, foxes eat chickens!
Do you feed those foxes? Do you have other pets?

2:56 PM  
Blogger Åñèè§å said...

it was rather interesting...u kept my interest thoughout the whole post...:) but do u really do those things or did u just post it out of boredom ??? .....whether it was true or not....it was supper kool :)

5:10 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

It's all 100% true, Aneesa. I have a lot more interactions with the foxes, as they live at my house off and on in the springtimes. Also some stories about racoons that live where I live too! It's like a zoo at certain times of the year where I live, which is in the middle of the city!
Willowtree, in the past I have fed these foxes when they had their den under that bldg. where I live, and have thereby made a friend or two! They still remain wild and wary, but sometimes they (the young ones) would come up to me and sniff at my ankles, something they'd never do with most people. In some ways, foxes are like dogs, in that they are social, and can be befriended fairly easily if one has a little food for them, but as I say, they also remain somewhat wary and apart, too, being wild.
The night is a fascinating environment, a different world from the day, but it's proably good that you are cautious about roaming about at night. It's a lot safer if someone is with you outside, or if you're in a car.

I, however, fear not the night, for I am the Raven! (or, at least I try to be as cautious and careful as possible!).

7:20 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Also, I don't have any pets, but those foxes were kind of like my own dogs, for a time. I'd drive home, and there they'd be, hanging out in front of their den. They were kind of like my dogs, but they took care of themselves!

7:52 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

It just so happened that last night on Seinfield, it was the episode where Kramer and Elaine are fighting over a bike with bells and the basket in front. Of course he won in the end, but it was so funny to see him riding down the street on the bike, ringing the bell, and yet he was the "man".
You see Frank, you could have told the girl you had a basket and bells, maybe she wouldve asked for a ride!

10:27 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I wonder if there are Biker Gangs for bicycle riding guys, maybe called the Desperados, or something like that. Would they let in a guy with a bell and a flower basket? That girl would have been impressed seeing me in my Desperados jacket, as I got onto my bicycle and pedaled away into the sunset, at the end of my shift! Ring, Ring!

I think I kind of recall that episode. My dad saw Kramer at some retail store in Santa Fe, NM some years back. I asked him if Kramer fell down, ran into a door, or anything like that. My dad said, "No, no, he was acting very normally".
Kramer truly is "the man"!

12:34 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

I remember on Oprah earlier this year, they were all on. Oprah commented on the fact that although Kramer was the "craziest" on the show, in real life he seemed to the most serious.
I have a friend who lives in Albuquerque. I swear, I never really heard of NM until I met him hehe.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

On the show, Kramer is the funniest (to me) when he is portraying "serious", as with his Dr. Mark(?)Van Nostrand, pipe-smoking character; tall, erudite, sophisticated - until he inevitably runs into that door, or catches his hair on fire!

Yeah, people from back East sometimes are surprised to hear that NM is actually a part of America. I lived there for a time when I was little. So did people like Billy the Kid and a lot of those Western outlaw characters from yesteryear!

6:24 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Oh nooo Frank, Im not one of those "East Coasters". I knew NM was a part of the US, but it wasnt/isnt a state you hear or think alot about. You know, like...South Dakota.
Ive never met or even heard anyone say they were from South, or North for that matter, Dakota.
Im know people live there, but it's like a myth. Im on a search for a south dakotan!
(Is that what they are called?)

6:51 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I know at least one or two South Dakotans. Of course, here in Colorado, we're much closer to their state. They do exist, but they are few and far between (their state is pretty sparsely populated, I think). Their migratory patterns seem to be more westward than east, hence your lack of spotting one as of yet. Keep on the lookout though, the occasional one probably does head eastward from time to time!

9:15 AM  

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