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Column: Grapefruit season

I got up early last Saturday, but I was already too late. The wind was whipping the leaves against the trees, and the sky looked dark and uncompromising. It didn’t look too good outside. To confirm my fears I called my friend Justin Fyfe.

“Well, I guess it looks like motorcycle season is over,” I told him.

Across town, Justin was doing the exact same thing, looking out the window at the weather. Summer had slipped too quickly into fall, every unseasonably warm day making it seem like we had more time than we actually did. I didn’t do as much riding as I wanted to this year, in fact, I hardly did any at all. Armed with a fresh cup of strong coffee, I walked out into my garage to check the odometer on my bike. It read a scant 11 miles.

My total mileage for the year might be a little higher, I’d taken a few brief spins on friend’s bikes at different points in the summer, but it wasn’t anything close to what I’d been hoping for this spring, as I patiently waited for the season to start. Justin confirmed he hadn’t done much better, racking up less than 100 miles this year. Life just gets in the way he said.

I’d been running into the same problem. Too many projects, not enough time. Jim Croce wasn’t kidding when he said there’s never enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them. When I was in my early 20s, there was always enough time, but as I’ve gotten older, time has become my most valuable resource. When you make your to-do list, all of the fun things start to slide down to the bottom.

After all, someone’s got to mow the lawn, and someone needs to vacuum the floors. There’s always something to fix around the house, and my fleet of crappy cars constantly need attention. Often, the projects fill up my nights and weekends, and it’s a relief to get back into the office on Monday morning. Riding my motorcycle fell all the way down to the bottom of my list, right next to going kayaking this summer. I kept putting it off, telling myself there’d be another nice day, and then another one after that.

Now, with winter sneaking in, all of the nice days are gone.

After all those years in Southern California and I’m still getting adjusted to winter. My old next door neighbor Donovan, was from Iowa too, and we’d get together often, to drink beers and eat fresh grapefruit from the tree behind his apartment building. At times, it seemed like we couldn’t believe how lucky we were, to be sitting in plastic lawn chairs, with grapefruit juice running down our chins in mid-January.

Like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, we’d gotten away and had come out clean on the other side, with nothing to worry about except the occasional earthquake or wildfire. We were bonded by our shared experiences as Iowans, our memories of going trick-or-treating with our winter coats underneath our costumes, and shoveling snow all winter long. At times, it was hard to believe our good fortune, to wake up everyday where it’s sunny and 75.

Those nights on the back porch seem a long ways back now, just like all of the warm summer nights out on my deck this summer, the heat still radiating even after the sun had set. I’ve got plenty of projects that’ll keep me busy this winter, including building a cafe racer out of a parts bike Justin and I picked up this summer. I’m lucky enough to have a heated garage to work in, and maybe if I’m lucky I can recapture some of the summer magic.

I just need to go grab a six pack,and a sack of grapefruit, I’ve already got my plastic lawn chair ready.

Contact David Dolmage at

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