Of course I had never read, or even previously heard of, Albert Camus’ 1947 novel “The Plague.” The book has now been mentioned several times in recent publications. It describes a French town during a plague. A New Yorker reader named Kyra Morris pointed out one scene where two principal characters of the novel get tired of the stress of the plague and jump in the ocean to take a swim. She says:
The physical leap that (these characters) take into the sea is made possible by an imaginative one: they free their minds, if only for a moment, from the grip of the plague… (the characters) do not naively assume themselves to be free; they carve a form of freedom out of a landscape inimical to it. To resist the psychological effects of COVID-19 we need to find a form of imaginative freedom that, like (those characters) does not ignore the pestilence. Camus calls this “a happiness that forgot nothing.”
I am sure that Tootie and I have a lot less to worry about than the inhabitants of the French town in Camus’ novel. Still, we prepared to free our minds by taking a bike ride together. We took proper precautions and drove over to the south side of Raleigh to take our break from the plague, even if that meant just not watching TV news for a few hours. It is not difficult in North Carolina to go on a bicycle ride and still maintain social distancing rules. It took only a minute or two to get two bicycles in the back of the Prius. I had to remove Tootie’s front wheel.
We wanted to ride on the Neuse River Trail but wanted to park somewhere where no people were around. We drove about thirty miles to Raleigh, then to Worthdale Park on the more isolated southeastern side of town. We found no one around so we thankfully pulled the bicycles out.
We biked first on the Walnut Creek trail which eventually merged into the Neuse River Trail, heading southeast, away from central Raleigh.
This trip was to be an up and back. After about ten or twelve miles we stopped for a picnic lunch. At home we had been out of peanut butter so I had a tuna fish sandwich, she had egg salad.
We did not bicycle all the way to the end of the trail near Clayton. Instead we turned around and had a great bike ride back to the car.