This Doesn’t Happen here. It Happened Here…

The windows opened at the back of my studio. A long number of months since I have needed to bring the outdoors in. Cool air from the woods softly floated in on an early morning breeze. May blooms surround while July heat has arrived. My brain was crowded and unable to settle. I started thinking about the hours spent creating, painting and writing. The investments made with no guarantees. The business of art. The hours an artist puts into their work isn’t really quantifiable. The actual studio hours are more tangible. The thinking, imagining, designing, dreaming and obsessing about one’s work is 24/7.

A few new art opportunities have popped recently. Relieved and grateful. The hopeful working hours that actually result in any given opportunity are odds right out of Vegas. Artists, makers, creators, and writers are driven to execute their thoughts. Sharing a vision. Interpreting the world. Real or imagined. After all it is all about the work. Thriving on the possibilities. Thoughts of economic sustainability are saved for the darkest hours.

Needing more yesterday. A way to organize the noise I decided to find solace in nature. More time outdoors to sort and think I pumped the tires on my little aqua blue Quick and was on my way down the street. I rode into summer somewhere around noon yesterday. The sun’s warmth striking hard on my arms. Temps in the eighties. A concert of bird songs accompanied my ride. Our local ski resort displayed a lingering patch of snow. Bugs bounced off my helmet and face. Vermont in May. The ride was sweet. The time was precious. I felt renewed with every rotation.

Relaxed and in the moment, I became aware of a slow-moving on-coming van. I gave it some notice as the color burgundy stayed with me. I paid little attention to it other than thinking it was a considerate driver respecting my safety on a country road. I continued blissfully on until the same burgundy van was driving right alongside of me. A balding man came out of the passenger side window uttering disgusting, inappropriate and threatening words that terrified me. A Wednesday midday bike ride was becoming something very different. This doesn’t happen here. Is this happening here? Anger and fear were in equal measure as I dealt with the unwanted visitors from another state far from Vermont. Fortunately, an approaching car moved the van along and I was able to reverse direction and head home. I have never ridden so quickly as I feared they would appear for a third time. I made mental notes of safe havens enroute while my anger began to build. Who were these horrible men? Was it “sport” to frighten a woman? Are they working here? Will I encounter them again? Will others? I shivered…

I have been a runner for more years than not, love to cycle and enjoy a solo meditative stroll. Each time a threatening male has tried to steal my joy and safety over the many years I am outraged. Women should be able to freely and safely walk, run, and ride without threat of harm. I was lucky yesterday. I made it home safely. Uneasy and more cautious today but not stopped. The audacity, the nerve…

I called the sheriff once  home. I explained what had happened. I was worried about the unknowing women out there enjoying the same beautiful day. This doesn’t happen here. It happened here…


                                                “We deserve to be safe” unknown

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

6 thoughts

  1. These are my fears still to this day. I was alone on my way home walking in my safe neighborhood. A man cut me off and wanted to give me ride home. Home was across the street. I ran and immediately reported the incident to my parents who were listening but not feeling my fear. That evening my friends on the “hill ” experienced the same man asking them to get in and ride home. BUT we all read Nancy Drew books and they were quick thinking and got the license plate number! Our Mom’s talked and after trips to the police station to be questioned, they caught a sexual predator.
    Yes, we deserve to be safe but I will always be planning out my route, my walk, my ride, my drive in my mind as this incident will not go away. The predators are there and I want to be smarter and somewhat prepared if possible. I am so sorry for your experience. As grandmother’s of girls, it is difficult to think about this. I can’t help it. I wish I could. Safe travels.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience Helen and sorry you had to go through it. I have unfortunately had this happen too many times over the years of enjoying the outdoors for running and cycling …just awful and it truly does stays with you. Midday on a Wednesday…should have been ok!

  2. Can’t believe this happened and I’m so glad you’re safe! My heart thumps as I think about it, can’t imagine how frightening it must have been. I’m glad you were angry in equal measure.

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