Car Free in Cortland (Part V)

Oh, the end of summer. It makes me hold on to the sunshine a bit tighter, motivated to drink the warmth while it’s still managing to cling to the air, however tenuous.

A couple of weekends ago, I was off to visit friends in Ithaca, and one of them suggested I bike. I was hesitant, having only recently dusted off my quadriceps and WD-40’d a lovely 80s road bike friends of a friend lent me (thank you!). But I know that it won’t be too long until biking is simply not an option (at least not a safe one, in my opinion). So I spent the most lovely Friday evening cycling over to Ithaca, winding my way along Fall Creek, blanketed in the softest of late afternoon shadows. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of the season.

The ride back was a bit less enjoyable. It was raining for a bit, then so humid I was biking atop clouds recondensing along the road. The hill just northeast of McLean was very challenging (and yes, I walked a couple dozen yards of it). But gliding back down into Cortland, past Lime Hollow and SUNY Cortland, seeing the college students begin to fill the sidewalks and explore downtown, it made me feel…affectionate.

Cortland has character. Maybe not your heroic leading lady or quaint barbershop tenor kind of character. But character nonetheless, even if it’s subtle.

I’ve yet to put my finger on exactly what is Cortland’s character, but it’s on days like this, when the wind is levitating seeds from the fields, when the ants are hiding in shady sidewalk cracks, and when the shyest passer-by holds a smile just for a moment, that I feel Cortland’s character almost ready to reveal itself to me.

Savor the end of summer by walking or biking or rollerblading or skateboarding or something that gets you outside and on your way to an inspired new understanding of the world around you. I might see you on a sidewalk somewhere, and if I can tear my eyes away from the clouds and the yellowing leaves and the gentle rolling hills I’ll smile at you.

Emma Ignaszewski

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