Posted by: Carl Magruder | July 20, 2009

D.I.Y.

This is the next installment in the story about Mollie.  In it, I have placed links that may be interesting to kids or even growed-ups who want to learn more about things mentioned in the story.  Lots of these links are from Wikipedia, because home schoolers like to add on to and edit Wikipedia entries.  One is from a website that has information on how to do and make all kinds of things!  Enjoy Chapter Two:  D.I.Y.

HP_biketop

2nd_bike_middle

“It’s called ‘skijoring’,” Papa said when he met Mollie after school the next day.

“What is?” Mollie asked.  She was trying to roll up the watercolor picture she had made that day and put it inside her book bag, but the painting was too big and stuck out.  She knew that if the big, wet snowflakes that were falling got on the paint it would run everywhere.  Papa gently took the painting and rolled it up, then slipped the roll inside his old waxed cotton coat.  Mollie called it his “brown paper bag coat,” because it looked like a big brown paper bag with sleeves and pockets.  Papa took her hand as they went down the steps.

“Having a dog pull you on skis.  It’s called skijoring,” Papa told her.  “It’s already been invented, and lots of people do it, apparently, sometimes with horses.  I found out about it at the library on the computer.  It’s a good way to explore remote areas in the wintertime, and the dogs love it!  You just harness Samson to your belt and then use your skis like you normally would.  Do you want to try it?”

Mollie loved this about her father.  She knew that lots of grownups don’t really pay attention or think about the conversations that they have with kids.  They are far too busy with thinking about insurance policies and not going bald and the white flower day sale and whether the Sox will win the big game.  But not Papa.  He seemed to take his conversations with Mollie every bit as seriously as he would a conversation with a grownup, and maybe more so.

Mollie herself had forgotten all about their walking home from school conversation from the day before, which had been all about whether their dog, Samson, could tow Mollie to and from school on her skis.  After the experience she’d had of being held in a circle of light and then receiving the idea about a world without poverty and pollution, where polar bears were plentiful and all of humankind got along, the question of skiing with the dog had quite slipped her mind.

“UmHmmmf…” she said, absently.  “That sounds like fun.”

They walked on companionably in silence.  They went past the bakery and the bike shop.  They turned the corner and went past the fire station and the coffeehouse.   Mollie’s fingers were starting to get cold when they came to the Co-op.  They went in to buy some things for dinner.

At the delicatessen counter Papa asked for some hummus.  The woman behind the counter was short and friendly.  She had long blond dreadlocks and a nose ring.  She wore a t-shirt with a bicycle on it with an extra attachment on the back.  The T-shirt said “Haulin’” on it above the bicycle stencil.  There was a nametag pinned there too.  It said, “Peregrine.”

“Excuse me, Peregrine,” Molly said as politely as she could.  Peregrine took a label from the machine on the counter and stuck it to the lid of the hummus container.  She slid it across the counter.  Then she leaned over and put her elbows on the counter and looked Mollie right in the eye just as though she had all the time in the world.  Right away Mollie felt encouraged to ask her question.

“I was looking at your T-shirt, and I wondered if that thing on the back of the bicycle is what I think it is.”

Peregrine popped up again and looked down at her shirt, possibly for the first time that day.  She seemed to encounter it with some curiosity.

“Oh, yeah, this shirt!” she said.  “Well, it’s a bike with a trailer behind it, and two baskets of apples in the trailer, see?  Read the back.”

She turned around.  The t-shirt stretched across Peregrine’s broad back, and Mollie read aloud, “Haulin’ Apples!” and just below that, “Pedal Power Farm.”

“I did an internship there two years ago,” Peregrine said.  “We grew all this great food, and then we delivered it on bicycles to subscribers who bought a farmshare, kind of like a magazine subscription.  That’s called a CSA farm, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. We were trying to be as sustainable as possible, so the food was all organic and the delivery was pollution free.  Walt and Esther Craven run it—they are an older African American couple, and their idea is to farm according to Biblical principles of stewardship, justice, and respect for all life.

“I still have my bike and trailer, if you want to see it,” she offered.  “It’s in the back.”

“Could we?” Mollie asked Papa.

“Lead on,” Papa said to Peregrine.

She called to the huge man who also worked in the deli and wore a beautiful red turban on his head.  “Hey, Tej, I’m going on break for a minute, o.k.?”

The man smiled, showing a gap between impossibly white teeth, waved and nodded.  Mollie got the impression that he was pretty calm about most things.  He turned to the next customer as Peregrine led them into the back storeroom.

Towards the back of the warehouse, Peregrine stopped walking and pointed up.  Hanging from the ceiling was a purple bicycle, and next to it a single-wheeled trailer.  “The co-op agreed to let me store it here for the winter,” Peregrine said, placing a ladder underneath the bike.  Papa helped her lift it down, and then the trailer.  In a trice she had the trailer connected to the back of the bicycle, and was riding it around a great stack of boxes.

Mollie was fascinated.  Peregrine’s bicycle had unique handlebars on it, with a shape like a ‘w.’ It was the color of a pomegranate.  She had rolled up one pant leg to keep it out of the chain, and the muscles in her calf showed as the pedals went around.  The old bike was covered with stickers of all kinds.  Mollie read one that said, “One Less Car” and another that said, “No War for Oil.”  There was “Pedal-Powered Revolution,” “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” and “Code Pink” as well.  The trailer was painted bright orange, and had a flag that stuck up and fluttered a little as Peregrine passed by.  The single wheel of the trailer leaned with the bicycle as it turned in a circle around Mollie.  Papa was leaning against a cardboard recycling bin and looking thoughtfully at the bike and trailer as it went round.

“This trailer is good for 45 pounds of stuff,” Peregrine said.  “It’s a pretty light duty one.  It’s DIY, built to my specifications, so it works perfect for me.”

“What’s DIY?” Mollie asked.

“Oh, you should know about DIY,” said Peregrine with a wink.  “I think you already do, don’t you?  I’m pretty sure that your hat is DIY.  Am I right?”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Mollie said, taking off her hat and looking at it.  It was made of many different colors, whatever had been left of Mama’s wool yarn from other projects.  Mollie had knitted it herself, a first project, and it had been so ginormous when she got done with it that Papa’s head wasn’t even big enough for it!  Mama had suggested that they put it into boiling water and stir it around with a stick.  It shrank some with this treatment, but was still too big for Mollie, so they did it again.  By the time it was done, it had been boiled twice, was practically felted, and fit perfectly.  It was so thick and warm that it was virtually waterproof, and the colors had all come together to form what Mama called a “pastiche.”

“I don’t think that it is DIY,” said Mollie, thinking that DIY must be a brand name of some sort. “It’s nothing.  I made it myself.”

Peregrine laughed at that, and Mollie had never heard such a laugh!  It was like music, rising and bouncing off the high ceiling and walls in the warehouse.  It was such a happy sound that Mollie started to laugh too, though she didn’t know the joke, and she could hear Papa’s low chuckle behind her.

Peregrine stopped in front of Mollie, since the laughter was interfering with her bicycle gymnastics.  She leaned over the handlebars and just laughed her beautiful, singing laughter.  Her blue eyes twinkled and her broad shoulders shook.

Finally she looked at Mollie and said, “It’s a mighty fine, hat, Mollie.  And it is mos’ definitely DIY!  D.I.Y. stands for Do It Yourself, and you did!  You made that hat with your own hands.  You figured it out.  You decided what you wanted, and you built it.  You probably had to solve some problems along the way, right?  And you ended up with something totally unique and pretty spectacular.  I wouldn’t mind a hat like that myself!”

Mollie smiled and put the hat back on.  It was DIY!  She had always liked it well enough, but was sometimes self-conscious about it.  Now she felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“I can make you one, if you want,” Mollie said, tentatively.  It hadn’t occurred to her that anyone would want a hat like hers, but Peregrine did.  She’d have to size it to fit over those dreadlocks…

“Deal,” said Peregrine.  “What do you wanna trade?”

“Trade?” Mollie said.

“Yeah,” Peregrine said, suddenly serious.  “A hat like that is worth something, for sure.  Must have taken hours to make, and it’s warm and covers your ears if you fold it down, right?  It’ll last forever—they have pulled wool out of ancient tombs, and it is still warm and holding its color.  No synthetic material can match it for insulation when wet, and it never smells bad.  I love wool.  So what do you want in trade?  I can help you to grow more vegetables, or save water in your house, play the flute, or show you how to hop freight trains—“

Papa coughed.

“Let’s see,” said Peregrine, starting again.  “I could let you borrow the trailer whenever you want, and see the plans for it so you could make your own to suit your needs.  I could—“

“Play the flute,” Mollie said.  “Teach me to play the flute.”

“Deal,” said Peregrine.  “I’ll teach you to play the flute two days a week for however long it takes you to finish my hat.”  She put out her strong hand for Mollie to shake, and the bargain was made.  It was only later that Mollie realized that she had chosen the flute primarily because it seemed to promise the most opportunity to spend time with Peregrine and to get to know her better.

Peregrine decoupled the trailer from her bike.

“At the farm we had two wheeled models that could haul much more,” she said.  “This is perfect for me, though, with laundry and groceries.  Sometimes I go on solo trips for sub-24-hours or longer, hauling my tent, my ‘sleepy’ bag, and other stuff too.  I never learned to drive, and the more I learn about the environment, the less I think I ever will.”

“Do they make them for kids’ bikes?”  Mollie wanted to know.

“I don’t know for sure,” Peregrine said.  “But that’s the beauty of D.I.Y.:  You can figure out how to make one for a kid’s bike.  You can buy a factory made one too.”

“First, I’d need a new bike that fits me,” said Mollie.  “I’ve outgrown my old one, and the handlebar streamers seem kind of silly to me now.”

“You should go and see Walter at the Happy Hub bike shop.  He’s run that place forever and knows everything there is to know about bikes.  He sold me this used XO-3 Bridgestone bike, promising me that it would be the best bike I’d ever had, and he was right.  He even used to make bikes from scratch.  DIY all the way.”

They decided on Tuesdays and Saturdays for Mollie’s flute lessons, and Peregrine said that she had an old flute that Mollie could use until she found her own.  Papa helped Peregrine hang up the bike and trailer again.   She put the ladder away and dusted off her hands.  “I’d better get back to it,” she said.  She nodded her head towards the front of the store, and her dreadlocks bounced on her head.  Mollie admired how strong Peregrine was, lifting her bicycle above her head to hang it up, and pedaling into the countryside to go camping by herself!  Mollie tried to imagine her own hair in dreadlocks, and it made her giggle out loud.

“What’s funny?” asked Peregrine as they went back into the store.

“Oh, nothing,” Mollie answered.  “I was just wondering about your hair.”

“My dreads?” Peregrine said, twirling one around her finger.  “They’re a commitment, Mollie.  That’s why they started as a religious practice.  They take a while to dread up, and then they’re always dreads.  You can’t comb them out.  You have to cut them off if you change your mind.  I think your hair is lovely just the way it is.”

Mollie glowed a little when she heard that.  It was nice to have a young woman tell her that her hair was lovely.  She didn’t think that hair was important or anything, but still, it was nice.

“Thank you for showing us your bike,” Papa said.  “It looks like a good rig.”

“Yes,” said Mollie.  “And it gives me an idea.  Thanks, Peregrine!”

“You can call me Peri,” Peregrine said with a wink.  “I’ll see you on Saturday, and don’t forget your hummus!”

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Responses

  1. I found this story very challenging to read. It makes some basic assumptions which don’t harmonize with my perception of reality. For instance, I don’t think that the single wheel trailer design referenced in the story is really all that great. This one, made by a friend of mine, is much better: http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/contest/grocerygetter/EricGoodman.htm

    Other than that, I think Mollie has moxie, and I’m curious about what further adventures she will get up to!
    -Dave


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