So I hear back from a guy named Mike at the swami retreat center outside Chicago where I was hoping to stay on my cross-country journey for my new book, Round America with a Duck. He tells me the fields will be fallow in 2023. So, no WWOOFers, those farm volunteers bartering labor for room, board and knowledge. Meaning no me. Meaning I need to rethink, reroute.

That word, fallow, floats around in my head for days. Meaning inaction; unproductive; left unsown in order to restore fertility. And I feel its meaning deep in my bones.

Fallow. Obsolete. An aging woman in American society. Me.

I’ve walked this field before, on the early other side of my time as mother when I realized I had no dinner story, that my previously interesting life, separate and distinct to me, no longer was. I then wrote a book named Bucket List to reframe, reclaim.

It worked. My whole life journey changed. I lived out loud again. Outside the box. Outside the banalities of soul-sucking suburbia. On terms that I and my family could enthusiastically embrace and that continue to cause ripple effects way beyond our needs-a-fresh-shellac front door.

And now here I am again. Facing sixty. Facing fallow, or my greatest freedom yet. Right now, this precise moment is another turning point for me at a crossroads in our country during a growing series of crises in our world. It is my sliding doors moment. My two-roads-diverged-in-a yellow-wood decision. My last chance to grab the brass ring.

I search other options beyond Chicago that will connect me from my Atlantic-Ocean-bike-tire-dipping stop in New York (the traditional beginning of a cross-country bike trip) to a conservative town in Kansas that I first featured in a national magazine fifteen years ago (before pushing onward to that final tire dip in the Pacific — see route here).

Named, aptly, Greensburg, that town built back using green construction principles following a devastating tornado. I’ll be going there to see what’s become of it. What we can learn from it. How we can work together to move forward at a time that seems increasingly impossible.

I’ll be reporting from all types of other continental divides as well. Religion. Race. Politics. History. Climate. Money. Health. Gender. Even (or maybe even especially) joy — as an act of resistance and insistence that life simply must be something more than just an increasingly unenthusiastic slog to the finish line. And, of course, age. All from the point of view of a traveler through cities and farms on bikes, buses, and trains with a duck and a desire to shine a light on what’s good out there — and why we should have hope now more than ever.

So I fall upon a horse sanctuary and rehabilitation center not far from Route 66 in Missouri. It’s named The Warriors of the Rainbow after the ancient Cree prophecy that states there will come a day in our godforsaken world when heroes will arrive to unite us — and perhaps they will be horses (or perhaps that’s not the prophecy at all).

I write to Candida and she replies kindly. She approves my stay, despite my last time on a horse being just a walk on a little trail (pictured), and before that maybe 30 years ago. She says I’ll learn a lot quickly. There’s also a greenhouse she’d love me to take on as a pet project. There’s, well, a lot of manure.

I will meet these saved horses, and perhaps they will save me. Perhaps they will save you. Perhaps they will save — and maybe even unite — all of us. And maybe, just maybe, I can do some good there as well.

Join me on the ride.

If interested, see Big Lessons I’ve already learned during the pilot test for this journey. Note: I am currently working on the book proposal for Round America with a Duck. If you are a literary agent specializing in journey-based memoir/inspiration/creative nonfiction who would like a first look, please feel free to email me. I will be sending the proposal to targeted agents starting January 2, 2023. You may also enjoy my other published books. Follow on TikTok at SpeedOfBike and RoundAmericaWithADuck!

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