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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Princess Mathilda

Most of the local vagrants are heading south, and I can't say I blame them.  The cold air is starting to take on a nasty bite to it, and it won't be long before hazards like lung damage and frostbite come to the forefront of every transient's mind.  Keep an eye out for more tips for staying warm this winter, for those of us transients who are stuck out in the cold for the long haul this season.

Word around the campfire has it that a Barnfire Swap is in the works for next week.  For those unfamiliar, a Barnfire Swap is the last swap meet of the year, usually taking place in mid-December before the last holdout migrant transients head south or west.  The idea is that it will give the lads one last chance to trade away unneeded items for ones that will be more useful on their journey.  The criteria can be very selective as to who is invited to this exclusive local event, because the last thing a vagrant needs before making the long journey toward a warm climate is to be swindled out of something they could use.  I've only been in town since early November, and my best chance of a referral--my friend Bread--already left town headed toward Augusta. I'm not sure if I'll be asked to join in or not.

On a happier note, one of the old men leaving town yesterday morning gave me a tip that proved very fruitful.  He said at the beginning of the season, when he was coming in from the north, he saw what he assumed was a bicycle off of Gray Hollow Road (known through the early 1970's locally as "Dump Road").  He was hungry and tired at the time and didn't go after it.  He drew me a crude map on a brown paper bag and said it would be worth my time to go check it out, since I would be staying in town.

I'm sure glad I did!  It was a 15 mile walk each way, which was a strain on my bad leg, but I headed out during the sunny part of the day and it was actually quite a pleasant trip.  I slept under the stars at the crotch of Gray Hollow Road and walked the rest of the way to the aforementioned spot (marked with an "X" on the sack).  Lo and behold, about thirty paces off the road was a bicycle wheel!

I was still skeptical--perhaps it was only the wheel and none of the rest, or maybe after a summer (at least) abandoned out here the bike would be rusted to nothing.  It was semi-buried under quite a bit of undergrowth and leaves, but was in relatively good shape aside from two flat tires and some rust spots.

I trudged her to the nearest Kum & Go and aired up the tires, which were both puncture-free, and rode her the rest of the way back to my bridge-home!  I only fell off twice.

Once home I shined her up real pretty with some turpentine and a knuckle-full of traded-for turtle wax.  I named her Waltzing Mathilda, after the old Australian tune.  Isn't she a beaut?

I'm tempted to engage her in the Barnfire Swap, should I be invited--I'm sure she'd be a valuable commodity to a southward traveler--but she might just be too pretty to part with!

In solidarity,

Train Tom