The Big Idea
By Mia Birk
“Whoa Mom, beep beep, turn around!!!”
Sasha, my delightfully spunky then-kindergartner, had spotted her new best friend, a big pink stuffed something. Unicorn? Bear? She had a million of them. Before you could say “lickety-split,” my wallet was empty. Thank goodness they didn’t take credit cards at this garage sale.
Sasha, standing by the ever-increasing pile of merchandise, clutching her pink gorilla, looked worried. “Mom, I think you got too much.”
“Silly Sasha,” I smiled. “When I was in India I saw a guy carrying a big crate of dishes, a load of rebar, his wife, uncle and four kids!”
She looked confused. What did this have to do with her?
“Just last week at the market I tied a box of butternut squash, oranges, apples, onions, grapes and zucchini to the rack, stuffed my pockets full of garlic and shallots and dangled two plastic bags of baguettes, flowers, goat cheese curds, lettuce and kale from the handlebars. When there’s a will, there’s a way, honey.”
I stuffed one pannier full to bursting with the kids’ new jeans, socks, athletic pants and shirts, the other with two adorable pairs of boots (only $2 each!)
“Hand over your backpack,” I ordered, then jammed it with $0.50 videos, books and Othello (the board game), which would provide me and son Skyler with hours of entertainment.
But where to put the white and pink flowered twin-sized sheet set and comforter set? Oh yes, on the rack, secured by a bungee-cord.
“But Mom, where am I going to sit?” asked Sasha.
“Oh, right. You’ll just have to sit on top of the mountain.”
I sat her on top, and started wheeling the bike to the street. She screamed and pointed at the pink hippo. “Stop!! We forgot Sweet Pea!”
“Well, honey, we can’t carry another thing, so Sweet Pea has to stay here.”
Her big green eyes filled with tears, plump cheeks quivered with emotion “But, Mom, I need her. Please? Please?”
Finally, we took off, to great fanfare from the garage sale shoppers, who cheered as I pedaled away, with a giant pink elephant wedged between my back and Sasha, clutching it tight like a long-lost friend.
To gain acceptance as a serious form of transportation, bicycling has got to be seen as pleasurable and fun, something delightful, not a chore, not a hassle, not scary, not a pain in the ass, or people won’t do it. So bring your bungee-cords with you everywhere, and look for opportunities to put smiles on your neighbors, friends and colleagues’ faces and simultaneously open their eyes and minds.
Sure, I could have come back later to collect my things by car instead of turning us into a carnival float, but where’s the fun in that?