The scent of freedom

I grew up at a time and era when riding a bike exemplified the ultimate freedom.

In those childhood years, not every kid had a bicycle, and we often borrowed  someone else’s for a few laps around the neighborhood square.

Being able to roam on a self-powered vehicle exposed to the elements of nature, combines physical activity with a sense of independence.

To the adult bike rider which I have become, there are added benefits. I can stop when something catches my eye to photograph, I can circle around a street curb once again to capture the speed rush, or simply soak it all up: the light, the sounds and the scents.

Today would have been just another 15 mile ride, three times around the neighborhood – except it also marks 15 years since the September 11th attacks in 2001.

I prefer to ride my bike when the heat of the day guarantees the produce of sweat, and when the scents around me are complex and of variety.

Today, there was the scent of freshly cut grass, the sudden splash of cooler air in a shady patch under the palm trees, the mix of flowers and that of a decaying armadillo carcass.

There was the scent of fresh wood at a newly installed fence by the small bridge over a stream. Deer left their scent along their crossing path, and I could almost picture that.

A few blocks down, the scent of someone’s grill triggered an immediate response in my mind – not of hunger, but that of realization that the sense of smell is so important in our lives, it’s the ultimate affirmation of freedom.

The loss of the 9/11/2001 attack in America was immense, costing thousands of lives directly and indirectly.

Fifteen years later, we often forget the effect it imposed to the lives of ordinary people. We wrap it all up with political statements and promises, forgetting the core elements that form it all.

The facts are considerably simpler; all it takes is a ride on your bike around your neighborhood, on an ordinary day such as this, to soak in the scent of freedom.

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