What happened on the clear, beautiful evening of September 3, 2012 was like something from “On Golden Pond.” After enjoying a family meal, we strolled out from our porch and down Third Street for our nightly routine of bike training with Miss Lydia. At 7:35 p.m. on the tree-lined gravel road that rambles through Ellery Park on Rugby’s west side, Lydia rode solo on her bicycle. I do believe the crabapples west of Esther McClintock’s home even let out a slight hallelujah, and the tops of the soaring cottonwoods did a slight Ginger Rogers sway in her honor. It is a moment that a parent never forgets, and as I darted and dragged behind, she says the words that go straight to my heart, “Dad let me go- I can do this!” Her tiny feet in sandals pressed intensely on the purple pedals as unaided riders. In front of her, Mommy capturing the moment on camera as the golden sun of the day rests on a treasured day in our lives.
Before this moment came about, we did have many evenings of practice. Not one to want to skip dessert, I soon realized that if I was going to keep up with Lydia after supper, dessert would have to wait. At one point in our daily routine we happened to take a side stroll to the east of our home. Past the library and at the large library windows, I did notice a curve beginning to reappear at my waistline! (Who knows- maybe I will be able to don that disco suit for my 35th class reunion.)
“Come on Dad, keep up. I think I am beginning to get the hang of this without my training wheels!” said Lydia. So onward I dragged-and very thankful I had slipped two aspirin into my pocket just in case I began to feel chest pains! Lydia was right-she was beginning to learn to balance, and on her sweet little girl’s bike with the white tires and pink rims, which she has nicknamed “Mounterraina”.
Her instructions to me were “run fast enough to keep up with me and don’t let me fall. You can do this Dad!” After my second week of training I had a whole new respect for all those who just competed in the Olympics! I had not come to the point of picking out the songs for my funeral, but the thought did cross by mind. After all, I so enjoy “For All the Saints of Heaven!” But on a more serious note, it comes to the point that as a parent we want to instill faith, hope, trust and love in our children. Learning to ride a bike has a miraculous spin on all of these. It was important for Lydia to know that her destination by the end of summer was to solo on her bike. In the beginning, it was me getting her to follow and understand the way to ride. Now she knows it is my responsibility to simply follow with a guiding hand.
This was the perfect time for Jan and I to recall our first solos on our bicycles. Jan’s came on the farm as her Dad’s powerful hand gave her a giant push from the farmhouse step. With her blonde hair flying a balancing act on her blue Roadmaster, it was played out on the prairie that spurred some of her first independence. Mine came also with the help of my Dad, who enjoyed riding bike. On a well-used red child’s Schwinn bicycle in front of the Laundromat, I made the unaccompanied trip down the sidewalk with my Dad saying “pedal hard.” In a style all of my own, I pedaled like mad in my blue cropped pants, secured with a braided white rope belt; a red, white and blue stripe shirt, and a big smile. I, too, was a second grader like Lydia.
As a parent, we soon realize that from the moment we bring our baby home from the hospital, they are taking steps away from us. First are the baby steps that we so enjoy and encourage, next comes running, riding a tricycle-perhaps even a green toy tractor, and before we know it, a bike without training wheels. In between all these movements, we instill in them as much confidence, happiness, contentment, learning and, most important, joy of living that we can. Thomas Jefferson once said “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” Yes, it is true that the happiest moments are at home with parents who behave lovingly towards their children, combine a good sense of humor to laugh at themselves, and share with their children their own childhood experiences.
We often mark moments in our home with desserts! For example, on the Lydia’s first day in second grade I baked a cake, and Jan frosted it with orchid- colored frosting. For a bike solo, this calls for a summertime pie!
Marshmallow-Almond Key Lime Pie
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup almonds, slivered, toasted, divided
cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened, divided
cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated key lime peel
1 egg yolk
1 cups miniature marshmallows
4 teaspoons butter
cup heavy whipping cream
Place the flour, brown sugar and cup almonds in a food processor. Cover and process until blended. Add melted butter and honey; cover and process until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-in. pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 10 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat the milk, 5 ounces cream cheese, lime juice, peel, and salt until blended. Add egg yolk; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour into crust.
Bake for 15 20 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. In a large saucepan, combine marshmallows and butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add cream and remaining cream cheese; beat until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Beat marshmallow mixture until light and fluffy. Spread over pie, sprinkle with remaining almonds.
(This could also be made with a graham cracker crust, if you prefer.)
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