Opinion: Recalling my first tricycle


Commentary by Ward Degler

When I was 5 years old, I got a tricycle for Christmas. I didn’t know it then, but it was larger than the average tricycle. That, plus the fact that we lived in a small house, made it impossible to ride inside.

Moreover, our house was in northern Wisconsin. Which meant the foot of snow on the ground made it impossible to ride outside, too.

There was a small nook in the kitchen where I would straddle my tricycle and move a foot forward and then a foot back, all the while imagining being outside, on the road, headed for my life’s destiny.

In the backyard was a septic tank, and its heat melted some of the snow. By February, the grass was visible on a spot 10 feet across. My mother had patiently put up with my cramped ventures in the alcove. She was delighted when my dad suggested I could ride outside over the septic tank.

As weather permitted, I rode my tricycle in a 10-foot circle for the next two months. Around and around, I went, occasionally putting on a little too much speed and flipping over into the snow.

Oddly, by the time spring rolled around I focused on other pursuits and let my tricycle sit idle much of the time. After all, a fence was in the backyard, and rabbits were nesting there. I practiced my best GI Joe tactics to sneak up on them.

I went roller skating on the sidewalk in front of the house. And, of course, there were two highly climbable trees there as well.

Spring rolled into summer and summer into fall. Then came the first snowfall and it was officially winter again.

Then, the tricycle returned to the alcove off the kitchen, and I jockeyed back and forth, waiting again for the septic tank to melt the snow.