One woman's view

The bicyclists who camped in Tampa on their way from the East Coast to the West Coast certainly were blessed with a spirit of adventure. The rest of us look on them with a mixture of envy, awe, and pity. Are they crazy or what? Believe me! I'm not about to bike coast to coast any time soon, but some of their experiences are enviable.

For one thing they are making lots of friends along the way. They seemed to truly enjoy getting acquainted with a dozen or so Tampa people, whom they probably never will see again. Also, they are moving slowly enough to enjoy the scenery thoroughly.

Most of us will never take on an adventure of this magnitude, but everyday events and activities can be adventures, if they are approached in an adventurous spirit. When the cyclists stopped to ask Greg Berens and me how they could get permission to camp somewhere in Tampa, we were engaged in killing a blacksnake in the road between our homes. If you know my attitude toward snakes, you know that this was a terror-filled adventure for me, even though Greg did all the actual work and shouldered whatever risk there was. He had the serpent held down with a rake and needed something sharp with which to decapitate it. I got a spade from my garage and, holding the shovel end, I barely managed to get close enough for Greg to grasp the handle. Some people say blacksnakes run in pairs. Now every time I leave my house I'll probably be looking for the varmint's mate.

Earlier that day, I had been on an outing to Abilene with a group of "senior citizens." I would just as soon be called an old woman, but that is a whole other column topic. I may get to it someday. We saw the exhibit of Presidential Treasures from George to George at the Eisenhower Museum, ate out, and visited the candy factory.

My other two experiences of the evening can qualify only as very tiny adventures, but I think perhaps they are psychologically significant. I actually took on two jobs which demanded a minimal amount of manual dexterity and completed both of them unaided.

The top of a small oak tree 4-H'ers planted at my house a few years ago has died. There are still leaves on the bottom half. A gardener friend told me to simply cut off the dead part. After borrowing a saw from Greg, who may soon tire of being my neighbor, I cut the slender trunk off. Since I had never wielded a saw in my life, I was rather proud of the accomplishment. It takes very little to feed my ego.

In summer I sleep with a fan on by my bed. Yesterday evening a piece of ribbon got sucked into the fan and pulled into the motor. I had once tried unsuccessfully to remove the grid covering the fan to clean the inside. However, this time I was a lot more motivated. I did not think that was an auspicious night to sleep without the fan. With a Phillips screwdriver (you guessed it — borrowed from Greg!) I managed to remove the screws and extricate the ribbon. Success after success!

Clifton Fadiman once wrote about doing some homeowner's task. I believe it was cleaning out a trap of a drain under his house. I admit I did not totally understand what he did when I read his book years ago. The point of his comment was that he always got satisfaction from writing his column, which he knew he did well, but he got a different kind of satisfaction from doing the manual task he knew he did poorly and awkwardly. This is the kind of satisfaction I attained by sawing off the tree and fixing the fan. I was afraid I would have to ask for help, but for once I did not.

Other small adventures abound in my life: basketball and volleyball games in season, jam sessions at the senior center in Herington, club meetings, chats with the children in the neighborhood, Learning in Retirement during the school year, picking up my mail every day. Who knows what wonderful surprise may await me there? I hope that I always will have the adventurous spirit I need to relish all these events and activities and more.

For all my readers I wish you great moments, events both happy and challenging and, most of all, the adventurous spirit to cherish them all.

— Jane Vajnar