Wisteria Lane

It is good to be back in Boston, just in time for Thanksgiving. We are off to visit family - but first, I wanted to share this:

I spotted this unseasonably floral bicycle in scenic Somerville. It is a Batavus Old Dutch, in "head-to-toe" lilac. The pannier-basket is decorated with garlands of faux wisteria.

When it comes to pastel purple, the owner obviously follows the "more is more" principle - which I, for one, very much appreciate on dreary November days like today. (I wonder whether colourful bicycles could be used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, just like "light therapy"?)

Hooray for lovely bicycles and have a good Thanksgiving!


  1. I certainly have not seen this one around; but would certainly consider it a bright ray on such dull grey days as we have had. Welcome back!

  2. If it wasn't for the caliper brake on the Old Dutch, she could have her rims painted purple too. That would be pretty cool.

    Man, so much rust+old grease in the usual spot (right chainstay, near chain protector) where these bikes typically start to get dingy.

  3. I smile at her every time I see her, and she's never smiled back. :(

    Maybe she thinks I'm stalking her bike. Maybe I am! :)

  4. MDI - This is ex-factory; Batavus offers them in these colors. Not old at all, i.e. a few years maybe. Which makes me wonder why the rust + old grease ...

  5. Frits - I saw the same rust problem on the chaincase of a new silver Batavus floor model in a local shop. No idea what causes it, but it is very noticeable on the non-black bicycles.

    Charlotte - People can be protective of their bicycles around these parts, plus it is not cool to smile in Somerville. Don't take it personally; just a cultural difference : )

  6. I love that she doesn't smile back! I never get tired of exploring the cultural gap between smiler/greeters (most Americans, at least west of the Hudson) and non smilers (many Europeans and NE state residents). I've even come to enjoy this difference without judgment or critical thoughts of those on the other side of the divide, recognizing the validity of the usual explanations on both sides.

    BUT... the image of someone on a lilac-garlanded bike declining to return a smile is my new favorite! Little incongruities like that make me, well, smile.

    On my list of things for which to be thankful this November is discovering Lovely Bicycle and its thoughtful community of readers. Your love of lovely bicycles has really boosted my appreciation and enjoyment of my own bikes. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!

  7. It's funny, because we always talk about the cultural differences of smiling with my colleagues in the EU. They ask me "Why do Americans smile so much? It's scary!" Northern Europeans and East Europeans tend to think that people who smile too much are either disingenuous or idiots. Americans tend to think that people who do not smile are miserable or hostile. You walk into an U-Bahn train car in Vienna, and to an American eye it looks like a funeral parlor. I am somewhat in between cultures, and not really sure which extreme I prefer. The American "professional grin" is a bit off-putting to someone not accustomed to such smiles. But the "determined glumness" of the Viennese can be depressing.

  8. "Eastern Europeans tend to think that people who smile too much are either disengenuous or idiots."

    Yes!!! I get that a lot there! :D

  9. Funny, my French friend said that it took a while to get used to American smiles, but now back in France she finds the dourness depressing.

    As a Californian I had the funniest experience when I moved to MA - I was at an art group lecture in very rural MA and afterwards we were all having tea and cookies. I was there with my great-great-aunt Charlotte and most people present were nearer her age. Anyway, I happened to catch the eye of a lady who was also looking out over the room and so I smiled. She frowned and put down her tea and marched over to me. "You're not from around here, are you?" she demanded. Yep, that was my introduction to the Northeast. I've learned to appreciate its qualities, but I'm very ready to go home.

  10. Oh, I love that bike! It's my favorite color--actually, I prefer a shade just a bit darker and deeper. But I want to know where she found those blooms at this time of year in the Northeast.

    About smiling: I lived in France for two and a half years, and have lived most of the rest of my years in and around New York City. There was a time when I thought the comparative dourness of the French and New Yorkers to be soulful, or at least hip. But now I enjoy smiling and--this may be a sign that I'm getting older--I really don't care what other people think of it.

    Surprisingly, on my most recent trip to Paris, and on the subway here in New York, more than a few people have returned my smile. But I don't try to force the issue: I know some very fine human beings who rarely, if ever, smile.

  11. @ charlotte: i can identify with your story of being from california. when my GF and i moved to SoCal from MA, one of the first things we noticed was the outward friendliness of californians. they were always smiling at us-- at checkout lines, at the gas stations, even the traffic cops would smile as the waivde us on through a crash scene. it seemed completely superficial to us, and although i still believe that to be true, we quickly got accustomed to it. we even expected it, for when we moved back to MA six years later, we were taken back by how grumpy everyone here seemed-- the same people we had grown up with! and since it's been scientifically proven that smiling stimulates healthful endorphin release in people (it's even been proven that smiling is, indeed, contagious!), i'll take seeing smiling faces over glum looks any day, disingenuous or not!

    @ filigree: as for eastern europeans... not sure. my opinion is probably skewed because i have a lot of family in eastern europe, and we typically smile a lot when we see each other. plus, one of my uncles is one of those old-world europeans who's always singing czech national songs with a cheesy grin, no matter what it is he's doing. i am always amused when i see him. i also have very good friends from poland who, despite being cynical and jaded, tend to use laughter for irony's sake.

    @ MDI: i'm not surprised at seeing rust on the "new-old dutch" batavus. this is one of their lowest tier models, and to sell it at its price point, they had to equip it with low-end parts. i've seen the batavus old dutch firsthand, and the parts are indeed as cheap as they come. it is kind of ironic that they sell the old dutch with the full complement of traditional accessories designed to stave off corrosion and general deterioration, but with such low quality that it doesn't really matter.

  12. somervillain - Heh, I am one of the people who has been involved in the "emotional contagion" research, and in a sense it is true that even fake smiling can elevate our own mood and the mood of others. But as usual, these things are not so simple and there are many factors involved. For example, the facial muscles move differently when producing fake vs real smiles, and that makes a difference in what effect the smile has on others, and so on.

    Though I have been all over Europe, I have never been to California - or anywhere West of New York State or South of Washington DC for that matter - so to me Bostonians and even New Yorkers seem fairly smiley. In rural Maine and NH things are a bit different, but that seems to be more due to valuing privacy (and therefore not wanting to facially communicate) rater than smiling vs not smiling.

  13. Still a Boy-scout.

    Whether the light comes from the Sun or street lamps it doesn't matter - it drives away the gloom.

    So, whether a smile is 'a fake' or not - it doesn't matter - it could cheer up some lonely hearts .... What's the use of 'the frown' - does it make the person who wears it socially wonderful? .... Just a my reflection

    A Smile is a Funny Thing
    (sung to "Auld Lang Syne")

    A smile is quite a funny thing
    It wrinkles up your face
    And when it's gone, you'll never find
    Its secret hiding place
    But far more wonderful it is
    To see what smiles can do
    You smile at one, she smiles at you
    And so one smile makes two

    He smiles at someone, since you smile
    And then that one smiles back
    And that one smile smiles until in truth
    You fail in keeping track
    And since a smile can do great good
    By cheering hearts of care
    Let's smile and not forget the fact
    That smiles go everywhere '

    Still a Boy-scout.

  14. from Lemony:

    I love purple ... be it flowers, bikes etc. When one own's a bike a scheduled home-maintenance is important if one wants to keep rust and grime away. The latter if left on a metal (be it steel or others) surface corrodes. I've learnt from my bf to regularly wipe/rub down my bikes with damp cloth which is made wet with a basin of water into which 3 or 4 tablespoonfuls of kerosene ( a bit less if you use motor oil) are added. Then use a long flat art paint brush {use commonly by (Chinese?)artists} to dab/brush oil LIGHTLY on hard-to-get-spaces(/places?) of the bike.
    Use a clean rag to wipe the whole surface of the bike (- including the hard-to-get-spaces with the aid of the art paint brush with its bristles now wrapped with a small piece of cotton cloth.)
    (If one knows how to remove and remount the chain-case, cleaning would become easier. Pay more attention to joints in the "bike-massage".)

    Because I use my bikes quite regularly I do this once in 2months or there about.

    Long live our bikes!! ;) :D
    To Boy-scout: I know this song - I was introduced to it when I was a Girl-Guide.

    No cosmetics could make the human face (even the 'ugly' ones - like mine :p) more beautiful then the SMILE! ;)

    Plse excuse me for 'typo' errors (if any) .. am in a bit of a hurry to get away.

  15. Am back! :D
    WOW! WOW! ERRORS!! :p

    Corrections: "...be it steel or other .."
    "(used commonly by..); " ..wrapped in.."
    :) SMILE :)

    Ps.: Btw., I love this blog and am 'addicted' to it. :D

  16. Lemony - Thanks : ) And no worries about typos, I maekt hem allthetime.

    Boyscout - wow. I missed out on that all-American experience, though I was involved in something similar in Europe as a child.

  17. ( I am just seeing the smile comments on this and find them hilarious. )

    I am a smiler but also a grumper- I'm fairly cheerful yet a new yorker. Did you know if you scratch the surface of New Yorkers- we are actually really nice we just perhaps like the people on the european train just look serious to ward off crazies etc...

    Finally- bearing teeth is a sign of hostility in the animal world. I will have my kitty on my lap all happy and cozy, eyes barely slits, then I'll do a teeth baring smile and the eyes open prepared for something. I close my mouth and blink and eyes close. I'll do it over and over and the response is the same. I've tried it on two cats so far...


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