Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where in North America is Uncle Rod? day 3

buttermilk falls
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Ithaca NY
301 miles (1,157)

No sooner had I typed those last words with numb fingers, and got back onto the Penna Turnpike, the clouds thinned just a bit. Not much. Just a bit. But when you’re on a bike temperature sensors are super sensitive, so I could feel the slight rise.
When I reached Scranton, specks of blue sky actually broke through and I could feel the intermittent sun clear through my jacket layers and even in the wind on my face.
Across the New York line, blue sky overtook the cover, and the clouds became cumulus pulchritude and the sun warmed everything. Tonight the sky is fairly clear, for the first time since I left. The sun has gone down, and the woods are getting black.
I’m camped at Buttermilk Falls State Park, within a stone’s throw of downtown Ithaca. Ithaca College is just over the hill from me, but I have to go around the hill to get there. I was there tonight to meet up with my former teacher and mentor, Christopher Berg. I’ll go back in the morning to hear him lecture, “Re-imagining Performance” at the Guitar Foundation of America convention.
Even now as I lay on my back looking at the stars, there is a guitar being tuned a couple campsites away. I listened, expecting to hear some three-chord strummer. I don’t know why I was surprised when the player began Bach’s D minor Prelude BWV 999, and followed with the first movement of Torroba’s Suite Castellana, and continued with Villa-Lobos’ Etude 1.

Upstate New York is gorgeous country to ride. Allison and I experienced a spectacular ride from Buffalo, south through the country two summers ago, and this was no different. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s ride through the Adirondacks.

Today, as I crossed into New York, two forces came into play together, or rather began to weaken. I felt those forces as gravity and friction. Home is a body of incredible emotional mass, and therefore, tremendous gravitational pull. Leaving home is like breaking the surly bonds of Earth regardless of how desperately you need to be away. Not only is the gravitational pull tremendously strong, but the atmosphere provides heavy resistance and friction. Discomfort, inconvenience, etc., all add friction to the pull of home. Even so, were there no resistance outside the bonds of home, say, the weather was warm and sunny. Imagine that there’s a strong tail wind. Still, the object at rest will choose to remain at rest. This is because the heart knows that there is no place warmer than home. There are no souls warmer than those at home.
You can imagine the convincing one has to do to his begging soul. The soul begs for solitude and rest, but is drawn to what it knows best, because the day-to-day stress has a familiarity of its own. Familiarity is comfortable, no matter how stressful.
So as I crossed the New York state line, the friction of the atmosphere lessened and my move beyond the bonds felt less drag, and required less effort. There must be some scientific term that describes that point in the atmosphere where friction lessons and gravitational pull is miniscule. I wonder if weightlessness is first experienced there, in that place where momentum, inertia, and gravity find a perfect balance, and one accelerates through the turns effortlessly feeling slight forces in 3 dimensions.
Gravity gets weaker as you move away…