There’s a place on earth where cedar wax-wings dip low enough to know air and water amalgamate. High overhead the sky is blue as only sky can be; no jewel can rob its glory. Osprey fish the river and eagles hunt from higher above, sometimes stealing from the osprey. It’s as if this place can boast of paradise, whisper of dreams, vanquish the veil between those who sought shelter then and now. Animals, birds, humans in a circle of life, a beating heart of beauty.
And I dared to name her parts. I dared to expose paradise. Her mountains hold mist, her valleys seep peat bogs. Zen, My Idaho, Elmira Pond. Paradise. Lost.
I knew this to be so the moment I opened the door. My first post on Elmira Pond in 2013, I wrote:
For me, paradise allows bare feet and requires binoculars. That means the soil is soft and sensual, beckoning toes to burrow, and it means the details are worth getting a closer look. If you drive north of Sandpoint on the International Selkirk Loop along scenic HWY 95 you might see me, barefoot with binoculars just as you pass the Elmira sign.
I’m looking at the pond. And singing to Blue Heron. Somehow, I believe if I make up a song to the tune of Moon River (insert “Blue Heron” instead) he might not flap away to the next pasture when I cross the fence. I’m just looking Blue Heron!
Looking is a part of paradise. We long to see paradise, feel its promised peace, kick back and take a breather from the grinding world of busyness. Do you remember what the Eagles sang in The Last Resort?
“They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye.”
I draw near for a last kiss. Tenderly, I look at the mountains cloaked in timber, vulnerable to beetles, drought and fire. Beneath I see bare bones of granite, feldspar, schist mined for possible treasure, ground for gravel. Used and vulnerable yet always tenacious, full of enlightenment. I will always see your beauty, close-up or far away. For now, it will be from afar. I come to paradise for closure, for a goodbye.
Little did I know that the dance with paradise would end, and so bitterly. So I spit out the bitter to taste only what I remember of the sweet. Would I have moved here if I knew it would break my heart to leave? Would I have risked renting in a market that has no sympathies for humans in struggle? Would I have skipped gaily among the pond and birds if I knew I, too, was a migrant?
Then I would have missed the moments. I would have missed The Dance. North Idaho, I dedicate this goodbye song to you:
Yes, I could have missed the pain of goodbye, but I will never regret the dancing I did beneath North Idaho skies. Instead of moving back to Sunnyside tomorrow, we are driving to Sandpoint one last time on Saturday to say, “Goodbye, Beautiful. Goodbye, Paradise.”
Todd has the breakthrough of breakthroughs. After 7 years of working mechanic contracts on planes, he is returning to aviation management as a maintenance controller for Skywest Airlines. I can’t even begin to tell you how monumental this is! Back when we learned our rental lease would not be renewed due to owners selling the house on Elmira Pond, I searched for homes and he for jobs. We both tossed darts and nothing timely struck. The same day we pulled our trailer to Moses Lake, Skywest called for the first of multiple interviews. Because we were dealing with his military PTSD in counseling, we talked about his inability to get re-hired in his career field for so long. Learning that his does have anxiety, being mindful of coping with it, and armed with tips from the VR&E, Todd made it through all the phases.
The next life adventure? We are headed to St. George, Utah the fairyland of deserts. I know paradise will show up in another form to tempt me to name her, to dance with her again, to record all she is with words that will never be as beautiful as the real thing. After a day of seeking places to park our trailer, I couldn’t find any. Snowbirds. Not a feathered migration but one of RVers. They all flock south for winter. However, in an odd turn of serendipity, I called on a rental on a ranch. I’ll keep you posted! No pond, but a community-focused non-profit that rescues horses to train them for therapy with autistic children.
The dance is life and we often do have to say goodbye — to loved ones, to unfinished dreams, to beloved places. It’s okay. The dance really never does end. Someone else will find paradise.
August 31, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye. It can be the last polka until next time; a farewell without end; a quick see ya later. How does the goodby inform the story. What is the tone, the character’s mood, the twist? Go where the prompt leads.
TWO WEEK EXTENSION. Due to the goodbye and relocation, this prompt will linger an extra week. Respond by September 13, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Time for Bed by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)
Mary rocked on the porch with a quilt tucked around her and Lizzie. The baby within stirred. After evening chores, the boys took to bed, leaving Mary alone with none to hear her heart pound. Cobb insisted she move in with his parents, but she wasn’t ready to leave Watauga County. The familiar woods, the patchwork of corn and squash, the smells of hearth fires nearby. She was born just over the ridge she couldn’t see in the dark. All her children were born here. And so would this last one. It was time for bed, not for goodbye.
The Slow One by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)
“For God’s sake, Ike! You’re forty-nine years old, you need readers, your one knee is bad and your other one worse. You know what the fellows on the Baffin expedition used to say? ‘Don’t have to be faster than the polar bear, just faster than the slowest in the group.’ Well, Ike, guess what? You’re that slow one!” Danni stood on the curb of the airport, ready to block his entrance.
“Babe, I know. But I have to.” Ike grabbed his duffle, kissed his wife goodbye and disappeared into the concourse as if Iraq had already swallowed him whole.