Reading Matters: You, A Bike and A Road by Eleanor Davis




Looking out from my desk at work through the long gallery of windows that line my side office –  I  find myself watching the wind catch the tops of the tree branches and how they exalt in the wind’s embrace.  And it stirs my soul: deep and powerful.  It’s the call of the open road, we all know it, that longing, that upward surging longing that sits in our hearts and propels our souls skyward and outward.

There was so much of that energy caught up in my next book choice “You, A Bike and A Road” – by the hugely talented illustrator/cartoonist Eleanor Davis.  It is a deceptively short , vivid book recounting a bike trip from her parents’ home in Tucson Arizona to her home in Athens Georgia and I think, this was one of the best “road trip” memoirs I’ve read .

“I was having trouble with wanting to not be alive, but I feel good when I’m bicycling.”

The book is achingly real.  Written in real time – the illustrations and notes were tweeted as the journey progressed, the author takes us on a journey into her soul and grounds us with her living experiences of events that occurred on the trip.

And like that other favourite of mine : Travels with Charley the author shares and draws her way across the better part of two states recounting with the people who meet her with extraordinary kindness and sharing the tales they tell.  The people she meets along the way are so often and so surprisingly kind that it’s nice to remember that people are good anyway.

“Turn your head. Horizon. Horizon. Your sovereign body.”

It’s brave too, camping alone at night in the desert under a canvas tent, sometimes we too long for that solitude and depth of experience that call of the wild thing too. And on biking..

“I like having everything I need with me.”

“It’s good to be alone. My own weight over my own feet, steady.”

This book motivated me to pick up pen and paper when my own chance for adventure came and it ramped up the joy in my trip.    And I drew my own pamphlet of sailing adventures.  At first the illustrations were faint, my pencil refused to make anything but a shakey mark on the paper.  And yet, as the trip progressed, my pictures became more confident,  stronger and more defined and gave me a little book of hand drawn memories more real and vivid than any photographic journal could.  It was as if something of the act of drawing brought that moment into the illustration and that’s what I see in Eleanor’s book.  And that is such a gift from one woman to another –  the gift of inspiration to create.

So if you, like me are a woman with a story and a longing to connect then this one is definitely for you!

Here is an excerpted story line from the book: Dispatch from the Mexican Border

Happy Reading.

BONUS Item:  Man You Gotta go!

Reading this book reminded me so much of a favourite poem by Thom Gunn – “On the Move

“A minute holds them, who have come to go:
The self-denied, astride the created will.
They burst away; the towns they travel through
Are home for neither birds nor holiness,
For birds and saints complete their purposes.
At worse, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still. ”

Follow the link for the full text, then share your thoughts below..


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