The days are a blur: did we go 20 miles the wrong way three or four days ago? Has it been four or five days since I’ve taken a shower last? Did we go to the Sustainable Mixer on a rooftop yesterday or two days ago?
The days are just packed with trainings, cooking and eating, more trainings, the sharing of adventure stories around a pencil thick candle, quick 10 minute naps, and for me, eating some more. Day after day of trying to take everything in, squeezing everything I can out of every minute, I found myself asking the question today, “Why are we going to church on a Friday?” The answer, of course, is because it is actually Sunday. We are on our second round of trainings at the Pawtucket Congressional Church (which is quickly becoming a second home) and I’m listening to Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car while writing this. I always tell myself that I need to take more time to myself to just sit, reflect and appreciate all that I’m getting to experience through Climate Summer but I find it hard to make time to do so. Well, I’m going to do that now.
After going 20 miles in the wrong way with my team and when we finally get back to the place where we turned the wrong way I let out a loud “Ke-KAWWWW!!!” After a split second, I hear three voices, each loud and distinct, declare “WooooWOOOOOOOOOOO”. You see, while we ride, it is hard to communicate, so we came up with a system. When someone wants to see how everyone is doing, they let out a mother goose like “ke-kaw.” One woo means that someone wants to stop. Three woos means someone wants to slow down. And two woos, especially two loud and long drawn out woos, means that we are doing good; real good. It was in that moment, when my team let out the loudest woowoo of the night despite having already gone 40 miles, one of our teammates taking a day ending crash, knowing that we were going to have to go about 20 more miles and it was already nine at night, that I knew we had one special team. Through my experience, it is hard to meet people with positive attitudes now-a-days, especially when nothing is going right that day. But those are not the people that I’m surrounded by, those are not the people that I’m going to be working with all summer and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
Fast forward a day, we just finished our second day of biking (we did much better than the first day, going in the right direction surely helped), we were the first ones to make it to the church after the 42 mile ride. We were hot, dog tired, thirsty, and in desperate need of a shower. We are greeted at Pawtucket Congregational Church by our wounded but fearsome teammate Jana and a note from Reverend Ruth saying that there is cold lemonade in the fridge for us. We were in heaven sitting as a full team once again in the dim, cool basement, sipping that enchanting lemonade. It is small acts like that that I keep on experiencing from people we meet that really turn the day around. Like when I was waiting on this porch for news on Jana after her accident and this nice lady, without hesitation, ripped out the current picture of her calendar and gave it to me because it had a bicycle on it. Like the couple that refilled our water bottles, showed us that we were 50 miles away from our destination, and then let us use their phone to contact our angel, Mama Marla, to let her know we were going to be a little bit later than planned. Like our community partner in Lowell, Jay, and how he invited Team East to a Sustainability Mixer on a beautiful rooftop in downtown Lowell to not only let us give our pitch about Climate Summer, but he talked us up to all his friends about how wonderful we are. And it is people like Chip and his sweet mother Hope that have us over at their house for a cookout- yes, they had burgers made of actual meat- that inspire me and motivate me to keep on going, to keep on pedaling.
Everyone always says how wonderful it is that we are taking our summers to volunteer for Climate Change, but I can’t express how grateful I am for all of these people that make Climate Summer possible. It’s those people that give me a boost to get up the next hill, to get up early in the morning after another night on the floor, that give me hope for this summer. So I would like to end this by thanking everyone that is helping to make Climate Summer possible, no matter how small you think your contribution is because to us, it may be what gives us the strength when we are struggling in the middle of a monstrous hill to let out that next WooooooWOOOOOOOOOOO!