It was the year I turned eight. I can remember the pre-birthday excitement and counting down the days until the it finally arrived.
Grandma and Grandpa were visiting from California so the celebration was extra special. The summer day was filled with sunshine and warm weather. There was my mom’s homemade pizza, cake from the bakery in town, and my new Cactus Flower.
That’s when it all began. I fell in love with that yellow and white Huffy with a banana seat and ape hanger handlebars. It was my first brand-new bike and the best gift I ever received as a kid.
Cactus Flower turned out to be not just a bicycle, but a tool for using my imagination, experiencing kid-sized doses of independence, and learning the responsibility of ownership.
While I was growing up, my dad stressed the importance of taking good care of my bicycle:
Keep it clean.
Always use the kickstand.
Never leave it out in the rain.
Wonderful memories are tied to that bike:
Countless rides down rural gravel roads.
Pretending to be driving a car.
Washing it and borrowing my dad’s chrome polish to shine the rims.
Pulling wagons with a rope tied to the seat post.
Riding away from home...but never too far... and always to return.
Coasting down hills with my feet up on the handlebars.
The special treat of riding bikes in town on the smooooth streets.
The Cactus Flower is gone, but the joy I get in riding my bike has never left:
I still love to coast.
I always use my kickstand.
I sometimes ride away from home...but never too far...and always return.
Gravel roads have been replaced with smoooooth Iowa bike trails.
Waking to the sound of thunder on a summer night wondering “Did I put my bike away?”
I’ll always be grateful for the fantastic day I turned eight and my memories of being a little girl, pedaling away on Cactus Flower.