And I don’t mean cheerio as in ‘goodbye’, but as in cereal… of course.
There used to be an ad when I was about eight or nine where this little kid would wake up before anyone else in his house and pour himself a bowl of Cheerios then set off on his bike into the wild blue yonder. Everything looked so appealing. The way he poured the perfect amount of Cheerios and milk into a perfect bowl in a perfect kitchen, his bike waiting for him right outside the back door, like the perfect friend. How he didn’t have to bother telling anyone where he was going, and the way the sun was just starting to light the sky and the day was all his—anything was possible and all of it was good.
After that I asked my mum to stop buying Cap’n Crunch, Fruit Loops and Honeycomb. They had nothing to offer; there was only one cereal that suited the adventurous outdoorsy freewheelin’ kinda lifestyle I wanted.
All that summer I ate a bowl of Cheerios every morning and then headed out on my gigantic rusted green bike that was an ancient hand-me-down from my very much older sister, and which was too big for me to sit on the seat and pedal at the same time—and I’d cycle to the other side of the canal to hunt for tadpoles and steal peaches from the orchards whenever I got hot and thirsty enough. (This was before the invention of water bottles.)
All of this comes home to me on certain summer mornings when the smell or feel or something about the air—some indefinable combination of summer warmth and early morning crisp—or maybe it’s the light or just a quality of the earliest hours of the day at exactly the right moment—that catches me by surprise (because it’s always a surprise)—and reminds me that our days, regardless of age or circumstance, quality of bike or choice of breakfast food—are filled to the brim with, if not tadpoles, then certainly the potential for their equivalent…