Sunday, July 18

Cookies & Cycling

Pure pleasure: baking and bicycles. Back to basics: sweet and tantalizing on one end and refreshing liberation on the other. The ONLY thing not wonderful about these two things is that you can’t do them simultaneously. At least not easily.

I learned about the wonderfulness of baking from a long line of people who were darn good at it! Perfected family recipes, culinary courage to create and the secret ingredient in all baked goods: (no matter how cliché or gag-inducing) love. You never just bake something. You create it. Well, perhaps cookie dough that comes pre-formed in petroleum-based packaging isn’t exactly your loving creating… but you gotta start somewhere.

Then with some luck my inner baking-goddess found herself college roommates who helped hone the craft and libraries of websites devoted to making my cook-book cupboard a veritable antique shop! To my own surprise everything from pies to yeast breads have been conquered in my kitchen, but no matter what the baking epitome is still cookies.
And for good reason: there are usually fewer tedious or expensive ingredients in cookie recipe than other things like cinnamon buns or cheese cakes; cookies are baked in 8-10 minutes; you can eat the dough while you wait; and usually you only need one mixing bowl and spoon (less dishes afterwards – especially if you line your baking tray with some parchment paper, that’s an insider tip right there). If you are now torn between finishing reading and pre-heating the oven I understand.

Then came the bikes. I have to say this has been a much different love affair and I may very well be in the (second) honeymoon phase with bicycles. Obviously all approximately-seven-year-olds have their first-love bicycles, but all too often within about eight years (North Americanly speaking) this monumental relationship has been banished to the confines of “babyish” or the even more dreaded “uncool.” But the somewhat collective renewal of the bicycle vows have made my pedal-powered generator whirr with delight. My own love was temporarily crushed when a stranger ignored my padlock and ended my 5 year off and on romance with Gigi the 12 speed. I took a 14 month hiatus from all things cycling for reasons of grief and winter. Then all things were righted when I found Lola.

Oh semi-cruiser Lola with your periwinkle frame! I lock you up in my closet because I love you and that’s the truth.

Sitting here on my couch I can almost feel the gears shifting and the dinging of mandatory bell when passing pedestrians (which is, something of a regulation in my fair municipality) it is just so pleasant to feel wind in your hair (well, under the complementary blue helmet) and see the things you would have missed in a bus or car ,but (and this is the best part) getting there in a third of the time it would have taken to walk! Oh what fun it is to ride… my bicycle all day long. (Sing it with me now…)

Chocolate chips and spokes?? So here’s my attempt to bring these seemingly unrelated loves together and I hope it will soon be more than just a crazy plan. Since I splurged for the saddle bags not for reasons of practicality or grocery shopping, no, I can fill each 70 litre sack with home-baked cookies and ride off into the sunset. If you don’t hear from me in three weeks… assume I am fine and happy and eating a lot of cookies while pedaling to my heart’s content.

But before that... do the world a favour, three favours actually - first, bake some cookies. There will always be someone who you can share with or might smell their warm wafting scent out your window or door. Quite simply you are making the world a better place. Second, ride a bike somewhere. You are free to go from road to sidewalk and back again (with due caution of course) and how much more liberating can it get? You are free to wave and smile at anyone you pass too. Then heck! Then let’s make life a party and try doing these things at the same time: ta da! There you go: cookies and cycling! Sounds like heaven to me. And if nothing else… do the things you love. I guess I can’t expect everyone to dream of cookie picnics beside two-wheeled human-powered transportation.

However, don’t forget that the most important thing in all this is to realize how great it is while it’s happening. In the significantly paraphrased words of Kurt Vonnegut: too often people don’t see when something truly wonderful is happening. So next time you are in the middle of doing something lovely think to yourself, ‘my! If this isn’t nice then I don’t know what is!’

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