MTB Poetry

Biking with Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle was a native Hoosier who perhaps was/is best known for his writings as a World War II correspondent, for which he won a Pulitzer.  Prior to that, he spent some time wandering around the midwest and western United States.  For me, now living in Indiana for more than three years, a place where it seems you are always biking into a headwind, even when you turn around and head back home, the following piece perfectly captures a little of what Indiana weather is like, and the thoughts that may go with it:

I don’t know whether you know that long, sad wind that blows so steadily across the thousands of miles of Midwest flatlands in the summertime. If you don’t, it will be hard for you to understand the feeling I have about it. Even if you do know it, you may not understand.

To me the summer wind in the Midwest is one of the most melancholy things in all life. It comes from so far and blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a sort of symphony of sadness, and it doesn’t pass on and leave them still. It just keeps coming, like the infinite flow of Old Man River. You could-and you do-wear out your lifetime on the dusty plains with that wind of futility blowing in your face. And when you are worn out and gone, the wind-still saying nothing, still so gentle and sad and timeless- is still blowing across the prairies, and will blow in the faces of the little men who follow you, forever.

One time in 1935, when I was driving across Iowa, I became conscious of the wind and instantly I was back in character as an Indiana farm boy again. Like dreams came the memories the wind brought. I lay again on the ground under the shade trees at noontime, with my half hour for rest before going back to the fields , and the wind and the sun and the hot country silence made me sleepy, and yet I couldn’t sleep for the wind in the trees. The wind was like the afternoon ahead that would never end, and the days and the summers and even the lifetimes that would flow on forever, tiredly, patiently.

–Ernie Pyle, Home in Indiana

Every time I’m out on the road turning pedals in the wind, I think of Ernie.  Timeless.

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