Sunday, January 25, 2009

Minnesota and Miyazaki

I’ve been feeling like a fraud lately. The gist of this blog is to encourage people to add a little bit of biking to their life, yet I’ve only been on my bike three times this month. Not exactly leading by example, am I? Sure, I have some reasonable excuses: high temperatures that are mostly below freezing, a sinus infection for the past two weeks, and a daughter that insists on riding the bus to school because “it’s too cold” to go by bike. But then I think of the people in places like Minnesota who are commuting to work and school in much worse weather conditions and realize that my excuses are pretty lame. I love to ride my bike, I love to bundle up with hats and scarves, so what’s stopping me?

When my daughter was invited to a friend’s house this afternoon, I decided it was the perfect chance for another bike ride. The temperature was right at the freezing mark, but surprisingly, my daughter gave no resistance and actually admitted that she missed riding her bike. It didn’t hurt that her friend was impressed by her arrival on bike and the sparkly letter stickers my daughter used to personalize her new helmet. Positive comments from someone other than her bike-crazy mother always make the ride more fun.

After the slightly colder ride home later in the afternoon, we treated ourselves to some movie time and watched Spirited Away by the wonderful Japanese filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. Sadly, no bikes were involved in that story, but there's a great scene involving a bike in one of his previous movies, Kiki's Delivery Service:

We are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki's work, and look forward to this summer's US release of his latest movie, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which is based on the story of The Little Mermaid:
Daughter is especially interested since hearing that two of the voice actors include Frankie Jonas, little brother of the Jonas Brothers, and Noah Cyrus, little sister of Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana).

In the meantime, we will try to expand our definition of "good biking weather" a little closer to Minnesota standards and maybe next time bring along one of our Miyazaki DVDs to lend to a friend.


  1. No way you should feel like a fraud! Three times on a bike in the coldest month of the year is quite a lot more than about 99% of Americans. Plus, a child adds so many complications! My sister was disappointed when her son didn't want to ride on the trail-a-bike to daycare because he was too tired in the morning, but there's not much she could do about it and ended up on the bus every day.

    I remember Spirited Away; I saw it at the theatre years ago. I'll have to check out the new film; I love The Little Mermaid.

  2. Thanks, Dottie. I probably should have titled the post "Chicago and Chihiro", referring to you and the little girl in Spirited Away. Honestly, your daily commute is just as inspirational as anyone in Minnesota! (If anyone else is reading this, check out her blog "Let's Go Ride a Bike" to see what I mean.)
    If you liked Spirited Away, try to see Howl's Moving Castle - more strange characters and unusual storyline. I just hope the new movie doesn't get too "Disneyfied" in translation.

  3. I agree with Dottie. Also, think of all the people that saw you out riding those three or four times this month; maybe it planted a seed. So in that way you've done quite a bit toward "the gist of this blog." Anyway, my very laid back motto is "Adhere to your comfort level; it ain't fun if it ain't fun."

  4. "It ain't fun if it ain't fun" - so true! That's why I don't force my daughter to ride to school in the winter. I want her to enjoy riding her bike (which she usually does when she's not frozen), not long for the day she gets her drivers license. Last week's ride to her friend's house had her longing for spring, which is a good sign. Thanks for the encouragement from Minnesota!