Every community has its own character and “characters”. By characters I mean those people who stand out in a crowd. You know the type; they are recognized throughout a neighborhood or community for some distinguishing characteristic. They become a part of the landscape of your community and if you didn’t see them for awhile, you would notice and wonder why.
In our former community we became quite familiar with one such character and although to this day I do not know his real name, or where he lives, or what he does for a living, and I’m sure he doesn’t know a thing about me; I feel that in some way I know him and he is very familiar to me.
My daughter and I took notice of him during our evening walks. From spring to fall we walked for 1 1/2 to 2 hours each night. The first time we noticed him, he rode by at a slow, methodical speed with his bright black and yellow jacket, large black rimmed goggles, black spandex riding shorts and bulbous, white helmet. As he rode past us we both just looked at each other and grinned. He was an older man; somewhere between 60 and 65. If you took the time to notice you would have seen that he had the legs of a 20 year old man. Lean, tanned and muscular.
The second time we saw him we grinned at each other again. By the third and fourth time we realized this was a regular activity of this elderly gentleman, to go riding around the neighborhood each and every night. Some nights he passed us 2 or 3 times. At first we weren’t quite sure what to make of this. Was he following us? Of course it didn’t take long for us to figure out we weren’t that interesting to him. Before long he became known as “Bee Man” to us. I can’t recall who said the name first but it stuck and Bee Man became a bit of a mascot to us and we expected to see him each night. Every night when we were out and about, one of us would spot him somewhere up the street and say “there’s Bee Man”. It became a bit of a challenge as to who could spot him first. Something like “Where’s Waldo” or when you are on a road trip and everyone searches the horizon to be the first to spot the mountains. Well, at least people from the prairies play that game.
When we had to move from that particular neighborhood, we were sad to leave many things, Bee Man being one of them. However it didn’t take long before we realized that living in a small city has its advantage because Bee Man was everywhere! One of the first evenings in our new house I happened to look out our kitchen window and saw him riding past our house and I just had to yell out “there’s Bee Man”!
During a time of great turmoil in our lives, when things were changing faster than we could run after them, there was something comforting about the consistency and familiarity that Bee Man inspired. So Bee Man where ever you are riding tonight; I just want to say thank you.