of god and tartans

12 Apr

This past weekend was the 12th annual blessing of the bikes at at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York city. Considering my recent close encounter of the automobile kind, I figured a little divine help was a good idea. So, I woke up early Saturday morning and hopped into my super fabulous bike shorts and bike & build jersey, put on my gloves and shoes, and strapped on my helmet for the quick morning ride.

Despite the sunshine, the morning was crisp and cool. A few clouds speckled the pale blue sky, hinting at another beautiful spring day. It was perfect riding weather; though as I picked up speed on Riverside, I wished I had worn a jacket.

I arrived at the church early, event information warned to be on-time or risk missing the blessing altogether. I spent the down time watching cyclists arrive, some brought fancy road bikes, others brought mountain bikes, frames… a man mused that he might just bring his derailer next year, as a man walked in with a wheel.

I wasn’t keeping track of the time, but it must have been 9:30 when people began forming two lines down the main space of the cathedral. Reverend Tom (or more properly, Reverend Canon Thomas P. Miller) led a short service at the front of the cyclist columns, pausing now and again for praise in the form of bicycle bells- my usual aversion to the sound (or rather the aggressive cyclist) was calmed by the space and its acoustics.

After the blessing, Reverend Tom invited the cyclists to do a circuit around the cathedral’s interior. I obliged and followed the cyclists once around before heading out and back home for a quick nap.

Blessed and refreshed, I made my way to the Tartan Day Parade. Early, again, I meandered up and down 6th Avenue, collecting swag, talking to kilted folk, and taking pictures. By 2 PM, I was fully tartanized (minus the kilt). I donned a white Scotland cap and tucked a small Scottish flag into my “utility” belt. Flowing heroically in the light spring breeze, my cape, a Scottish flag, was kept MacGyvered into place by the handle of a small American flag, allowing both hands free to take pictures!

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d enjoy the sound of bagpipes as much as I did on Saturday. There were hundreds of players, and I never thought I’d say this, but I think the more bagpipes the better. It was simply wonderful- and the drummers! I was absolutely entranced by their twirling batons, it looked incredibly fun to do, but must take a good deal of hand-eye coordination to pull off in time while marching. Maybe the kilts help.

The parade lasted for about an hour, with various groups and associations displaying their pride and showcasing their talents. One of my favorites was the Scottish Terrier owners. While I’m usually not a fan of dressing up animals… this kilted pup got two thumbs up for being super awesome. This Terrier is captaining her wheeled ship down the street. Look closely and you’ll see there’s a pirate skull on the back. This is one cool dog with an outfit that works.

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