Marianne’s Bicycle

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Her real name isn’t Marianne but, poor thinga , she’s a school teacher out here and probably shouldn’t be affiliated with “that guy who wrote that book.” Consequently, I sometimes use the name I gave her in Blue Rubber Pool: Marianne, after Dawn Well’s character Mary Anne in Gilligan’s Island. Why? Because the day we met she reminded me so much of that good natured country girl, and because ever since meeting her I’ve been a castaway in the South Carolina boonies—miles from the ocean, miles from sailing, miles from the rest of the world. But I digress…

I thought she’d enjoy an e-bike like mine but, no, she wanted a regular bike, this one, because she liked the color and the basket. I frequently debate the downside of choosing a thing for its form more than its function. But then she points out my surfboards, my speargun, my things that go on boats and beaches. These are all around us at Pineapple Hill.

“Why do you have them?” she asks.

“Because they make me feel at home,” I say.

Then she points to that bike she never rides and says, “Same here.”

And then it hits me that she doesn’t ride because she’s so busy doing a thing larger than what I do. She’s bringing Reading Recovery, an accelerated reading program for school kids, to Union County, a place very poor, very lacking hope.

Marianne doesn’t have time to ride her bike—just enough to like its color and that basket.

So now when I see it parked at Pineapple Hill I know some kid is learning to read and their life will be changed for the better.