Sunday, September 18, 2011

Christine! Rigby!

Last Wednesday was a stellar day. Tuesday, not so much. The difference was the lovely Christine Rigby, who is a force of nature. Appropriately enough, my introduction to Christine was (indirectly) through Sally Roth—a naturalist friend—who is also a force of, friend of, and writer about...nature.

The two had struck up a conversation on Sally was looking for someone to put this young woman up as she came through New Harmony on a leg of a cross-country bike trip.

Wasn’t really in a putting-someone-up mode, so it rather slipped my mind, but the next day (or the day after, maybe) I noticed a young woman on a bike with packs, helmet, etc., riding past me on my way to the Main Café for late (usual) breakfast. We smiled and nodded to each other. Besides noticing she had a really nice smile, it didn’t click ’til she had pedaled out of sight that this was probably Sally’s rumored bike traveler. Dang.

Thought I’d ride my bike past the usual tourist sites after breakfast looking for her, and sure enough, bumped into her right out of the gate at the Roofless Church. There was such a nice overcast light and as we stood there talking I felt overwhelmingly compelled to do a portrait of her. I’m trying to be better about seizing obvious opportunites. Raced my bike back home, grabbed my camera and came back in the car—still a little out of breath.

From my camera’s data, I notice we only shot from 12:39 to 12:54, kind of on the short side of what you’d hope for a decent portrait. But we got some really nice stuff. She’s such a ham for the camera... but a nice ham, a yummy prosciutto, with melon and cheese : )

Her next couchsurfing stop was outside Newburgh, IN, about a 40 mile bike east from here. Newburgh is one of my more favorite little towns in the area, so I volunteered to drive her there, as it was almost certain to rain pretty hard later in the afternoon. First a me-guided tour of my little town. Some of my favorite stops not on the standard historic tour. Christine was a totally comfortable, funny touring companion. She’s 22, but much older, wiser, and more curious than that normally implies. I am (reservedly) more encouraged about our planet’s future.

After all the touring I could muster, we packed her stuff and headed over to Newburgh, where we had a really late middle-eastern lunch at Café Arazu, one of my favorites, before heading out to the country ’burbs where her next people were.

One of those rare good traveling moments—when not exactly traveling.

I always try to be aware of daily maintaining that travel “head”—the thing that makes you think people and things elsewhere are truly fabulous. Funny thing...people all around us every day ARE truly fabulous, we just don’t always notice on “normal” days, when we’re stressed out, bogged down in work, whatever.

I got an email from Christine earlier today and her header has an exclamation mark after her first! AND last! names. Assuming that was on purpose, but if it was a typo, it’s significant, because she’s one of those people that seems to live life full-out, leaning forward, welcoming the next surprise. Exclamation! mark!

Five hours after meeting her, it made me a little sad to drop off this fabulous stranger, who had become my new friend. Maybe I’ll see her again, maybe not. She lives in Florida. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we seized a really good day. Thank you Christine! Rigby! I’m happier to be alive because of you. You’re the best.