Times Past: Uphill to the lake

  • When she was a little girl, Estelle Cade remembers pedaling out to the Ashfield Lake (depicted in this old postcard) on her bike, sunning herself on the raft and the diving in the water to cool off. Contributed image

  • Floating around Ashfield Lake in a sun hat was good place to be on Tuesday when temperatures soared well into the 90s. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Friday, July 06, 2018

Our family’s move to Ashfield found me spending a lot of time at the lake, especially in summer. Every sunny day found me on my bike, bathing suit and towel firmly anchored to my metal bike basket, pedaling the two miles from South Ashfield to spend the afternoon swimming with friends.

It was a long two miles, with about half of it steeply uphill. My daily challenge was to see how far up I could pedal before having to get off and walk to the top, pushing my bike. (This was a plain bike, not new and fancy.)

One particularly hot and humid day, I pressed grimly on. “One more pedal,” I thought to myself over and over, “One more pedal ...” Then, what do I hear behind me? Clip, clop, clip, clop. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s a girl a few classes ahead of me, on her horse! (She was the only girl in town who owned a horse.)

Yes, there she was, properly outfitted in jodhpurs and leather riding boots, passing by me with a casual, “Hello, Estelle,” and what seemed to be a pitying look at my sweaty progress up the hill.

I almost reached the top that day, but not quite. I rode my bike down Main Street to the lake and my waiting friends. When I arrived, the other girl’s mode of transport was neatly tethered in the shade next to the tennis court.

I have no memory of that girl ever joining us out on the raft, sunning and then jumping in to cool off. Perhaps we were too young and unsophisticated for her? Perhaps she preferred tennis? I never knew.

And when, once in a while, I’d ask, “Dad, why can’t I have a horse?” his way of saying “no” was to ask “Who would take care of the horse?” Clever dad!

To be fair, the bike ride home was fun. It felt like flying as I sailed down that hill on my bike (with no helmet back then, and only a coaster brake), trying to see how long I could coast on the flat road before having to pedal.