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Hooping It Up

We’ve come several full circles in our geocentric world, while we here on Plum Lick are reminded of bygone times.

You know, flying a kite, going out and kicking some empty tin cans, skipping rocks across a pond to keep the frogs on their webbed toes—stuff that costs next to nothing.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not totally behind the times. We try to stay on a few cutting edges.

Geocaching, for example, featured in this issue of Kentucky Living, is powerfully interesting. It could put us in better touch with geomancy, geochronology, and geomagnetic storms.

It’s all a part of the learning curve—teaching old dogs some new tricks, keeping our roots well-anchored without going to pot.

The wagon wheels with rusty hubs leaning against the aboveground cellar testify as to how far we’ve come. It’s not likely that we’ll be using wagon wheels anytime soon, unless it’s for support for ivy or flowering mandevilla.

Hardly anything is more un-geoed than the gadget we young squirts used to devise to amuse ourselves when exploring up and down the roads and pathways, back and forth across the unmapped hills of imagination.

Didn’t have a name. We may have called it “driving the hoop.”

Here’s how it operated.

We cut ourselves a 5- to 6-foot length of #9 fencing wire and went to work. At the business end of the wire, we fashioned a double U, and at the other end of the wire, we shaped something resembling a handhold. Next we appropriated a hoop from an empty nail barrel. Nothing fancy. Just the bare essentials.

That’s all it took.

We were ready to roll.

Look out, horizon!

The U of the end of the wire fitted nicely around the hoop, and we finagled movement. We were in no mood for standing around doing nothing. To be stuck in the mud was as awful as being up to elbows in axle grease.

It took much practice to coordinate the project, which afforded so much inexpensive entertainment—more fun than trying to keep up with a rolling automobile or truck tire.

The object was to be in control and to keep the movement smooth. The #9 wire was essential to both considerations. We were going! Little did we think that the day would come when we’d be GEE-oing.

From #9 wire and a barrel hoop, we graduated to our first bicycle, which cost $15 and was a beauty. We instinctively knew that the first order of business was to cut a piece of leather and notch it so that it hung nicely over the rear axle. That way, any spilled oil would be wiped clean by the leather and at the same time give the axle a shine that looked like the silver of the gods.

We didn’t wear helmets.

But we made sure the chain guard was in place, because the last thing we wanted was to snag and bind our flapping pants leg. When we spun out of control on gravel, we put cool water on our skinned legs, climbed back on the wheels, and continued on our way.

Years passed, geometrically—so it seems.

We won a new bicycle with a radio on the handlebars. It was given away by the local movie theater, and we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. Hardly anything could compare with tooling along with soft music playing in the breeze—until it was the year of the first driver’s license.

The silly old bicycle with all those musical memories was sent to the junkyard, which turned out to be an almost unforgivable mistake.

Today, with geo-positioning, seat-warming, and high-octane pleasures galore, it might not be such a bad idea to take at least one more ride on a non-gas-guzzling bicycle.

We might even find a minute or two for some #9 wire and a barrel hoop.

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