Jul 2, 2013

The right to bare heads

I was always puzzled by the fact that in most states one is required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, but can leave one's helmet home when taking one's Harley on a 70 miles per hour cruise on the interstate. I wondered whether this has something to do with the free-spiritness of motorbikes, with not wanting to be told or restricted in any way by the government. Similar to the gun debate - perhaps NRA stands for the National Riders Association? I have not studied all constitutional amendments in detail, but I would not be in the least bit surprised if the famous Second Amendment not only talks about the popular right to bear arms, but also includes the right to bare heads. 

All of that said, I did encounter an unexpected reason to wear a bicycle helmet yesterday. I was going to the office along the local bike path, enjoying the nice morning sun, a little lake breeze and plenty of wildlife. A deer, six rabbits, two chipmunks, red robins, barn swallows and plenty of pretty redwinged blackbirds. The latter were singing and gurgling their little hearts out, with so much enthousiasm that they spread their tails wide in order not to fall of the electric wires. I had forgotten my helmet, so rode bare headed, which is actually a better way to enjoy the gentle lake breeze. However, I rode bare headed straight into  a Hitchcock movie, when one of those pretty redwinged buggers attacked. It hovered over my head, scratching my skull with its tiny talons!  Not a good day to forget one's helmet. 

I was certainly aware that these little buggers were not as pretty as they look; on another bike path a couple of miles south there are traffic sings warning for these attacks during breeding season. But this breeding season, apparently the redwinged blackbirds are extending their territory northbound. Or perhaps they share that same American free-spiritness; they are leaving the path with the traffic signs, as they see that as the government interfering with their lives and with their rights to bare heads, to attack bare heads that is. 

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