I roll down the hill, looking for the gap in the hedgerow. I see it, so I hit the brakes, swing my leg back and over the bike and dismount. Strung up on a wooden sign above the gap are the words, “Cycle’s Rest”. I smile as I walk under it. I don’t know who set aside this little piece of heaven that looks over the Devon countryside, but I thank them as I rest my bicycle against the bench.
As I sit there, on the hillside, listening to the wind—the only sound I can hear—I breathe. With each exhale I release the tension that exists like a ghost in my neck and shoulders. I let my eyes open wide as I inhale. After a few minutes I spy a bird, wheeling in the air, sailing on the currents. Its wings are outstretched, unmoving. It’s rising and falling, leaning left and right, playing with and in the air. It glides in figures of eight so large that I have to move my head to keep it in sight.
After what seems like hours, the bird changes its pattern of flight. The figures of eight dissolve into oval-shape loops that get larger and larger, and finally, it breaks the loop altogether, soaring in a straight line, diagonally across my sight, away into the distance. The bird has found what it is looking for and heads towards it with a singularity of purpose that exists only in the animal kingdom.
I watch it until it I can’t see it anymore. Until it blends with the hills. I stand up, put on my helmet, wheel my bike back back under the sign and smile once more. I get back in the saddle, but before climbing the hill I originally came down, I come to a crossroad. I take a left. A left I’ve never taken before. As I lean in to the turn, I offer thoughts of thanks. This time, not to the people or person who created the “Cycle’s Rest”, but to the bird. To the bird that flew so gracefully and streaked off with such intent I say, “Thank you for showing me how to fly.”